Campassion first

283[1]Let’s get one thing straight – Jesus was from the Middle East and he was a refugee. Fleeing persecution and likely death, his parents fled from their home, on foot, in search of sanctuary. Their intention was always to return to their homeland, which in time they did, perhaps about four years later. Life as a refugee was the first life the Son of God knew.

And let’s get another thing straight – the Israelites fled oppression and became God’s people, our ancestors in the faith, through a disorganised headlong rush for freedom. The Passover meal, consumed in a rush as an emergency top up, not knowing when or where the next food would come from, became the Jewish rite of self-identity and from it the Christian Eucharist, celebrated here in the cathedral every day, became our staple diet of sacrificial hope.

And let’s get one more thing straight – all through the Bible, Old and New Testament, the imperative for the believer and for society in general is a morality of generous welcome, of open doors, of help at the point of need.

How many little children like poor Aylan Kurdi have died without the publicity of a journalist’s photograph?  Aylan was the age Jesus was when he was a refugee.

For the Christian and for those who claim any kind of political or moral high ground based on Christian principles, the only response we can make to a refugee is compassion first. This is what we need to get straight – compassion comes first.

The Very Revd Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester Cathedral

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