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It was the image of policeman Mehmet Ciplak carrying the three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s limp body from the beach at Bodrum which so recently shocked the world. And, of course, this has not been the only image that has lately captured our attention, given it was quickly followed by scenes of thousands of refugees walking mile after mile along the major roads in Hungary.Pictures do enable us, at some level, to enter into the experiences of others and sense something of what they must be feeling.I imagine we don’t tend to think of Jesus in refugee terms but consider this: at a very tender age he was secreted across the border to a neighbouring Middle Eastern country.
Then, when his parents were finally able to bring him back, the political situation was still too fragile for him to settle in Judea, the land of his own forefathers. Fast forward another twenty years, and now he emerges back into the limelight, and not so much has changed, he must at all times keep one step ahead of the authorities.Jesus was supremely the one who had to keep moving. In fact, in one place he responded to a would-be follower and told him plainly:
“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
At the end of the day, Jesus allowed himself to become a refugee not merely at the risk of his life, but at the cost of his life. He has given the fullest expression of divine compassion for human beings by completing the picture perfect exchange: whereby he becomes the ultimate refugee so that we gain the ultimate refuge, a haven in heaven – how about that!