Turning Jesus Away at the Border
On Friday, January 24, the US State Department issued a new set of rules for pregnant woman entering the country. Pregnant women seeking visas to the US are to be turned away, unless they can prove that they have another, more important and pressing reason for coming to America, and that their intended stay is temporary.
I'm not sure it could be any clearer, as it regards the division between American politics and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel—Good News for the poor, release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free (Luke 4)—calls us to love and welcome the stranger, the non-citizen (Leviticus 19), especially if the stranger is poor, hungry, and oppressed. Not only this, Christians worship a God whose mother was relegated to an underground hole of a barn for giving birth when the rule of law had Joseph and Mary unnecessarily traveling across the country for the Caesar's census bureau.
How do we not see in the immigrant mother seeking refuge and a safe place to give birth to her child the Theotokos—the Mother of God? How do we not see Mary and Jesus? Are we so afraid of those who are not like us that we are willing to turn God away at the border? It seems that we are hell bent on saving ourselves, losing our humanity in the process (Matthew 16).
It seems as if we have forgotten the Christian story—the story of our humanity. It seems we have forgotten how the world has rejected Jesus, compelling us to reject he who is our life.
“He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God” (John 1.11-13).
To reject the immigrant is to deny our Baptism. It is to deny the restoration of human nature in Christ, a nature that is shared by the whole of humanity. To deny our shared nature is to deny Christ; it is to deny one’s own humanity. To deny pregnant women seeking refuge safe passage, a healthy birth, and a better life for the child she carries in her womb, is not only shameful, it is evil, and we are all complicit. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.