By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on November 18, 2018
In the midst of America’s contentious debate about migrants from Central America who are traveling to the Southern border of the U.S., we seem to have forgotten the Biblical story about the world’s best known immigrants -- Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.
According to the Bible, Joseph woke Mary up to give her urgent news. Jehovah’s angel had just appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him “Get up, take the young child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I give you word, for Herod is about to search for the young child to kill him.” -- Matthew 2:13.
After this warning, Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus fled their homeland. They escaped just in time because Herod learned that the astrologers who found Baby Jesus’ location had tricked him. Herod told them to report back to him when they had found Jesus. Instead, they left the country without giving Herod Baby Jesus’ location.
Herod was filled with rage. In an effort to kill Jesus, Herod ordered his soldiers to kill all boys in Bethlehem and its surrounding communities who were two years of age and younger.
In the meantime, Joseph and his family made the migrant journey to Egypt. They continued living there until it was safe to return to the land of Israel where they settled in the city of Nazareth. -- Matthew 2:20
Were Mary, Joseph, and Jesus refugees? Yes. They were a family fleeing their homeland to avoid persecution and Baby Jesus’ death at the hands of King Herod. As they headed toward Egypt, they were undocumented migrants seeking refuge and safety in foreign country.
In the Bible, Jesus reminds us that any time we “welcome the stranger” we welcome Jesus himself. These are his recorded words:
35 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)
Refugees and migrants have been fleeing violence in their native countries for thousands of years. They are usually in desperate need of help. Jesus commands us to “welcome the stranger.”
Many Anglo-Saxon Christians in America simply ignore Jesus’ command when it comes to refugees and migrants of color. They seem to pick and choose which portion of the Bible they want to govern their personal lives. When it comes to welcoming migrants with open arms, they will do so with migrants from European countries but not with migrants of color from other countries.
The clearest example of this disparate treatment is presented in how President Donald J. Trump views the migrant caravan from Central America, as compared to how Trump treated First Lady Melania Trump’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs. The Knavs, who made their first trip to America from the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia in February 2004, took their oaths to become Americans in August after the First Lady sponsored their green cards. They were not fleeing gang violence or persecution. Instead, the Knavs benefited from the “chain migration” that Trump has repeatedly denounced for non-white immigrants. Under “chain migration,” a single immigrant who becomes a U.S. citizen may sponsor an unlimited number of other relatives for green cards and citizenship.
The migrant caravan from Central America consist of innocent men, women, and children who are fleeing gang violence and abject poverty. Contrary to U.S. law, they will not be allowed to apply for political asylum at the U.S. border. Instead, they will be met by heavily armed U.S. soldiers who have been ordered by Trump to turn them around by any means necessary.
Fortunately for Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, a pharaoh with Donald Trump’s mindset was not ruling Egypt when the “Holy Family” fled Herod’s death decree. Such a leader would have ordered his soldiers to stop Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus at the Egyptian border.
At the time, Egypt was one of the greatest civilizations on the planet. Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians built the “Great Pyramids” and other magnificent structures that are still standing today. Yet, they did not erect a wall to keep foreigners out of their country.
Only two countries have built world-famous walls -- communist China (from 770 BC to 220 AD and 1368 to 1644) for the purpose of protecting its territorial borders and Germany for the purpose of separating communist East Berlin from pro-western West Berlin during the Cold War (from 1961 to 1989). In 1989, the Berlin Wall was torn down and Berlin is now unified. The Great Wall of China is now a tourist attraction.
Donald Trump’s Great Wall at the Southern border is the third project of its kind in world history. Trump’s stated purpose in building the Wall is to keep migrants out of America who are fleeing violence, political persecution, and abject poverty back home. On the campaign trail, Trump promised his supporters that Mexico would pay for the Wall. Now, he is demanding that American taxpayers pay the $20 billion tab for his Great Wall.
Ultimately, God will decide whether the Bible’s teachings on Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus’ immigration into Egypt will prevail over Donald Trump’s narrow-minded political views on the subject. Throughout recorded history, no national president, prime minister, king, dictator, or pharaoh has ever wielded more influence and power than God. They all fade from the scene over time. God is here forever.
I side with God's Biblical teachings on the subject of immigration.
PHOTO: Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus fleeing into Egypt after King Herod issued a death decree for his soldiers to kill Jesus.