“I contain multitudes” Walt Whitman famously said. For me, I am a follower of Jesus, a husband, a parent, a son, a brother, an uncle, a bishop (although Betsy has declared our home a bishop-free zone), an American, and a fan of a certain baseball team and the E-Street Band.
When I consider the refugee crisis going on in Texas right now – an estimated 52,000 children being detained- I do it through the lens of a parent. And I believe I’m on sound theological footing when I do that because Jesus consistently addressed God as his parent and our parent. So it is a good lens to use.
Tom Callard, our Missioner for Hispanic Ministry, recently urged us all the read an article called God Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: A Year in the Murder Capital of the World. It is about life in Honduras and can be found here. It is one of many stories coming out of Central America describing the horror of gang violence and dire poverty. As a parent, I would move heaven and earth to get my children to safety. Wouldn’t we all?
Let me use another lens – that of an American. I recently had a brief exchange with Archbishop Desmond Tutu – we are Facebook “friends.” I think he has 125,000 Facebook friends but he actually replied to my request for prayers for the children detained at our border. He readily agreed to pray and added that there are dire refugee situations around the world. Under international law, the host countries must take them in. According to “Arch”, if the United States does not take in these refugees (and they should be designated refugees because they are fleeing violence), what message will we send to the rest of the world? As a citizen in a country that wants to be a beacon of freedom and peace in the world, it is clear to me what we need to do.
Two weeks ago, Governor Deval Patrick gave a passionate speech saying he was looking for ways to host these immigrant children in our Commonwealth. He said, “My inclination is to remember what happened when a ship of Jewish children tried to come to the United States in 1939 and the United States turned them away, and many of them went to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps. I think we are a bigger- hearted people than that as Americans, and certainly as residents of Massachusetts.”
My hope is that we have the opportunity to host these children in our Commonwealth and in our Diocese. I hope that as a parent, as an American and as a follower of the one who said “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.”