by Chris McDonnell
I listened to a radio program last week during which the story of a refugee boy who had been settled with a family in the West was asked what was different when compared to the home he had left. His reply? “Now I am warm and when I open the larder door, there is food to eat.”
How well would those of us in the affluent towns and cities of Europe and the United States manage in circumstances such as those that have faced these people in transit? How would we have coped with the long walks, the risks at sea and the varying weather? Not very well I am sure.
Yet there it is. At some point in recent months, a family would have agreed, “it’s time we were moving, it’s time we were gone.” Leaving their home and extended family behind, they set out on their perilous journey.
Some never made it, losing their lives on the way. Others arrived having become separated from families. And others are camped in make-shift manner hoping for a welcome in a strange land.
No doubt, there are a few in their midst who shouldn’t be with them, whose intention it is to bring the terrors that the vast majority are fleeing into the heart of the European continent and continue to wreak havoc amongst innocent people. So be it. It is the risk we must take in order to help those who need our help, those who need our care.
During these days of Christmas, there will be families living in rough dwellings, tents and make-do shacks, as we share our family Christmas in the warmth of our comfortable homes.
We sing carols about the star of Bethlehem, we tell stories of a pregnant Jewish girl, Miriam, and her Joseph on the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We hear once again the story of rejection, there being no room for strangers and we welcome the Christ Child. For a brief moment we can hesitate and gaze in speechless wonder as we know again Christ’s birth.
When you leave the first Mass of Christmas, late in the evening or maybe where Mass is still at midnight, early Christmas morning, imagine that under those self-same stars overhead, young families are without the comforts of our communities, without the comforts that we are returning to.
May our governments and our people continue to welcome them, offering shelter, food and clothing and extend the love of Christ to those in need.
Come Lord Jesus, come.
Chris McDonnell is a regular reader and commenter at Pray Tell.