Campassion first

Published: September 18, 2015

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

One thought on “Campassion first

  1. You ask how many little children like poor Aylan Kurdi died without the publicity of a journalist’s photograph. I realise the question is rhetorical, but it brings your point very much home to reflect that Aylan’s brother (only a couple of years older) and his mother were both drowned at the same time. Only the father escaped.

    I am one of the admins on the Facebook page which is attempting to act as an interface between those who are prompted to give to the refugees and the members of existing aid groups in the camp such as Secours Catholique, Salam and L’Auberge du Migrant. If you are thinking of taking things to Calais, please first read the pinned post on this page.

    One very practical way you could help a number of refugees at the same time is to give towards the purchase of some large UNHCR-approved tents. We have just raised enough for 20 such tents (which is the minimum for a bulk discount) and have started collecting for the next 20. See

    Whatever you can do, all that you can do, will be very gratefully received. And, if you stick to those items that are required (eg not ball gowns or stiletto-heeled shoes as one box contained!) they will be put to very good use.

    Whether you accept further arrivals in the UK or not, let us do what we can to avoid anyone starving or freezing to death on our doorstep this winter.

    Pax et bonum!

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