FAN Newsletter (FranciscanActionNetwork)
Sunday, December 1st, marks the beginning of the Christian season of Advent which leads up to the announced birth of Jesus, the Christ, Christianity’s reason for the season. Have you, whether a professed follower or a non-believer, ever wondered what would happen to this child if he were born in the year 2019?
“I cannot help but think of the journey of the children, women and men forced to migrate. In September  the number of migrants globally reached 272 million, outpacing the growth rate of the world’s population.” Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
Most of us who were raised in the comforts of an American Christian community surely remember the sweet stories about baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger being adored by the shepherds and wise men and lovingly attended by Mary and Joseph. We remember the art masterpieces depicting a handsome Jesus, obviously an Anglo-Saxon man, decorating the church wall.
We were somewhat dismayed upon learning that this proclaimed savior of the world was probably a brown-skinned, short man with curly black hair born into poverty to just one of numerous illiterate families earning a meager living working for the wealthy, religious elite. They were, of course, Jewish and followed Judaic traditions. Undoubtedly, they experienced hunger and probably did not have clean water or adequate sanitation. Security was to be found not in material wealth but in their devotion to the God of their ancestors and the cooperative charity of fellow villagers.
If Jesus were born today, he and his family would probably be immigrants on some nation’s border, possibly ours. He would risk violence at the hands of racial prejudice or trafficking in child sex trade. On the southern border of the wealthiest nation in the world, Jesus would likely be separated from Mary and Joseph and caged with other immigrant children.
Not much has changed, has it? Two thousand years later and we still treat immigrants as if they somehow do not really matter to the Father/Mother of us all, that they are less loved than we are. We continue to hang on to that image of Jesus, the privileged, Anglo-Saxon white man adorning the church wall. We noisily thump our Bible to support our prejudice while reading the words which state explicitly that every person on earth is made in the image and likeness of God. We somehow ignore the scriptures which tell us that we are to love our neighbors [earthly brothers and sisters] as ourselves.
The season of Advent is a journey for the Christian world leading up to the birth of its proclaimed Christ child. In addition to all the joy, jingle bells, gifts and Santa Claus let’s set aside time to contemplate what it would be like to be an immigrant. What if you and your family were forced to leave the comfort and security of your home and your community because of political or economic turmoil? What if the people on the other side of the border which you must cross hated you because of your skin color, creed or social status. What if you were financially disadvantaged and had to rely of the goodness and compassion of strangers to provide for your family? Would you be afraid?
If we justify our intolerance and lack of compassion for immigrants by citing the need to protect our families or protect our faith tradition or protect our racial purity, or protect white identity, then truly what we cherish is but a heap of rubbish, is it not? We are denying the reason for the season. How can we proclaim amazing grace at the altar while disregarding the message given to us through the life of Jesus, the impoverished immigrant?