Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers
Remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them.
Truly, how can we get that message of love and welcome to go past our eyes, our ears, into our brains and get it to stick in our hearts?
Because we as a society don’t. We just don’t welcome strangers nor remember those in prison. I am thinking particularly today of those asylum seekers who had the bad luck to buy a passage to Australia by boat, rather than try arriving by plane. We place them in camps, prisons, that are places of limbo, of violence, of abuse, of systematic mental cruelty and take away all hope of relief. The media and voices of any possible dissent are banned from access to these camps, thus allowing us the luxury of saying that we didn’t really know what was going on.
Do we need to know everything to know that this isn’t Godly or loving?
Our politicians of both sides are in a bizarre race to beat each other in their need to prove that they are tough on “illegal immigrants”, but to whom are they proving it to? Is this how you would like billions of tax payer money used?
It has been shown, before the fact and figures became embarrassing state secrets, that the vast majority of asylum seekers are indeed refugees, legitimately searching for a place of safety while their own home country is a place of danger.
In all my dealings with asylum seekers in Geelong, I am yet to meet the nasty job stealing radicalised person that the government is apparently protecting me from by locking up these people. Instead, they are folk who have seen and experienced things too terrible to share easily, but yet hold on to a love for their country. Who are, by the very fact that they have gone through so much to arrive here, who are willing to make a safe place for their family to grow and to make a contribution to this place. I fear that locking them up, showing no compassion, denying them any work, even voluntary work, will create the very monsters that we are afraid of. People who have no understanding or love of Australia, and why would they?
Fear, uncertainty and doubt are powerful tools when used to divide people and communities in the pursuit of political advantage. Yet they can be beaten when people who care about our social cohesion and wellbeing speak out about the type of community they want to be part of.
Follow Christ’s teaching, confront intolerance and hate where you find it. “Remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them.”
God bless you and please remember the prisoners in your prayers.
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