Trudy Rubin’s column this week, published elsewhere on this page, sums up the horrific situation for countless refugees driven from the safety of home and kin by the Syrian civil war.
The problem of people – whole families often – driven from their homes and the familiar surroundings of life by the perverse political ambitions of a few powerful people is among the most despicable expressions of perverse human behavior.
The problem is as old as civilization as we understand it.
“When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself … I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22)
“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of humanity, are created, strengthened and maintained,” said Winston Churchill, one of the great men of all time.
If the family is disrupted the best outcomes become more difficult. It is perhaps helpful for people of faith to remember that Jesus, as an infant, became a refugee, fleeing King Herod’s quest to find him and determine if he was the promised Messiah.
Dutch preacher T. J. de Ruiter quoted from Matthew about that refugee flight:
“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child.” (Matthew 2:13) [RSV]
“The plain fact of history is that Jesus was a political refugee. The family had to stay there till God would tell Joseph that they could return to Israel,” de Ruiter wrote.
Those ancient people of faith as well as many in our own time find hope in believing that God empathizes and sympathizes in their trouble, often using people of good will and strong action to intervene, in effect becoming God’s voice in our time.