…The fascists were already in power, the verdict was already out – and the Jews of Sighet were still smiling. — Elie Wiesel.
Wiesel’s haunting memoir Night holds a dire warning for us all, particularly in this time of increased nationalism and white supremacist tendencies.
In this time when children are being separated from their parents (shoelaces removed from tiny feet lest they contemplate suicide).
In this time when children are being held political hostage for selfish gain.
In this time when the nation is being separated by “us and them” (and I’m talking political parties here, not “legal” and “illegal” adjectives).
In this time where so many of us are still smiling – cheering even – at the fascist tendencies of this administration.
This morning I saw a South Texas minister, who when asked what he thought about the situation, stated: “I have to put my faith in the government because they are ministers of God’s righteousness.”
Not gonna lie, I threw up a little bit in my mouth. The gore rose. And so did the anger. Because, good golly, this is NOT what Jesus would do.
He would NEVER allow little children to suffer. Never. When he said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me,” He did NOT condone their suffering. That’s simply not what that verse means.
And when He said, “Whatever you do for the least of these you do unto me,” he rebuked callousness and bullying and condoned compassion and charity. I have no doubt in my mind that crating innocent children inside holding facilities away from their parents is NOT what Jesus would do.
And when Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you. By this, everyone will know you are my disciples,” He showed His followers how to live faithfully and righteously. Juxtapose that last commandment with the minister’s statement – “I have to have faith in the government because they are ministers of God’s righteousness.” Ugh. This is NOT what Jesus would do!
And then, there’s this piece of scripture– famously known for being the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.”
This verse – along with so many others – shows us Jesus’s compassion and sorrow. He empathized with humanity. That’s what makes His story, our story. “For God so LOVED the world that he gave his only begotten son…” And because of LOVE that son was willing to sacrifice himself for all of us. Because of LOVE.
Jesus wept in the Gospel of John, and I have no doubt that that is what Jesus would do NOW.
Because Jesus loves us ALL — Red and Yellow, Black and White — we are all precious in his sight. Even the immigrants on our border states.
The followers of Christ are meant to live as Christlike as humanly possible. To live according to His laws. To love according to His teachings. To try to always do what Jesus would do. And this zero tolerance policy is NOT what Jesus would do.
Where is the compassion of Christ when border patrol seizes babies and jokes that their wails are “a chorus” without “a conductor?” Where is the compassion of Christ here?
Where is the compassion of Christ when we see a president – a president who can stop this sorrow in an instant with a single phone call – blame past administrations for the heinous policy that he and Jeff Sessions whipped up in April? (Quit the blame game and FIX the suffering.) Where is the compassion of Christ here?
Perhaps one of the most horrific and blasphemous quotes I have seen to date– one that is the antithesis of the compassion of Christ – the antithesis of what Jesus would do — involved a webcast evangelist who proclaimed these immigrants “unclean.”
Unclean– a word reserved in the Old Testament for people and things deemed unsuitable for worshipping God: imperfect sacrifices; women after childbirth (and the babies too) and during menstruation; lepers; animals with cloven hooves or bottom feeders.
Note that it is an Old Testament term and presumably obsolete once Christ came on the scene… as is evidenced by Peter the disciple in the New Testament Book of Acts.
Peter recognized that Jesus wanted no man called unclean, and Peter particularly referenced the Gentiles. And guess what? The vast amount of individuals in this United States are considered Gentiles because technically anyone not Jewish is a Gentile. So Christ gave Gentiles grace.
But we Gentiles are not showing grace in return.
We are locking up immigrants on our Southern border as if they are unclean. As if they are lepers; bottom feeders; cloven-hooved devils. Unclean and unfit for sacrifice. But sacrifice they have become – on the idolatrous altar of nationalism.
Jesus accepts all – Jew and Gentile alike. This zero tolerance policy is most definitely NOT what Jesus would do.
And then today I learned a new term –Tender Age Shelters — shelters designed for babies and toddlers.
Shelters designed for children my sons’ ages (and younger). The age where they won’t let me out of their sight for me to go pee or fold the laundry. The age where if they don’t know where I am, they immediately grow anxious and fearful. The age where I hear cries of “Mama! Mama!” four hundred times a day. The age where if I don’t answer right away, they resort to tears and then hysterics. The age where they follow me around like an umbilical cord is still attached – and honestly, the age where it hasn’t been that long since it actually was.
The age where they fear strangers. They hide from them behind my hips… hips designed to carry them in utero and then out in this universe until they can care for themselves without me. I am their security. I am their sanctuary.
I can’t imagine the panic in their souls if something like this was happening to them. Their hearts would be shattered. And so would their psyches. Experts have stated that this kind of abuse can do irreparable damage to a developing mind and body.
And I can’t imagine the panic inside a parent’s soul to face a choice like they have faced. To stay in their homeland where there is nothing – nothing but hunger and poverty and crime and violence, a bleak and bitter existence – or to take a calculated risk and seek a better future for their family. I just can’t imagine such a choice.
And yes, these parents are making an illegal choice– but it is difficult and darn near impossible to navigate the treacherous red tape of legal entry, and THAT is what we should be focusing on here – instead of breaking apart families and building up walls.
These parents are seeking asylum. Much like those who accept Christ seek asylum in His love. Jesus has an open-door policy. He accepts everyone. And he commands that we do, too. He asks that we show hospitality to strangers who seek asylum, “for some have entertained angels unaware.”
I shudder at the thought of what we have done to these strangers in a strange land.
Angels are agents, attendants, messengers of God. And our message in reply has been heard loud and clear all around the world…
Lord have mercy on our souls — mercy far greater than the mercy we are showing these tender children and their tender parents.