Advent Firesiders

Tradition and Today iii (2013)

The image that will live with me from 2013 is that of the corpses of a mother and child, still joined by the umbilical chord, raised from the wreck of an overcrowded immigrant boat just off the shores of Lampedusa. In its simple pathos it sums up all that is wrong with our world and, not least, with us.

What was remarkable about this incident was the sympathetic coverage of the pathos by newspapers that the day before and the day after continued their nasty campaign to vilify immigrants in general and "medical tourism" in particular, diverting the immigration debate from justice to the blanket identification of those seeking exile in our country as feckless at best and criminals at worst.

I wonder whether that is why there was no room in the inn, even for outsiders who could afford the price of a room. We are called upon to see Jesus in everyone, but particularly in the stranger, the outcast and the beggar. The logic of this statement for Christians is that the less favoured the immigrant, the more we should care. We should embrace the feckless, the unskilled and, yes, even the criminal.

Following Jesus is tough!