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Egypt Welcomed Poor Baby Jesus and Family Though 'Illegal' Refugees----Matthew 2:13–15 Christmas Call for Welcome and Justice.

Brothers and sisters of Jamaica,

We ponder today on the eve of a holy celebration, the birth of a child. Not a child born posh in a stush place, but one nestled in an animal's manger. Kindly note that a manger is a low open container which cows, horses, and other animals feed from when indoors. Jesus was the child of an unmarried "baby madda".  Mary and her "gentleman" were fleeing for their lives that first Christmas. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, entered the world as a targeted displaced boy baby, forced to seek refuge in Egypt from Herod's murderous decree. It was cold in the Governorate of Bethlehem. As I write this, it is 43F degrees in daytime Bethlehem and in daytime New York City  and could rise to 45F on Christmas night in Palestine. Even in North-Eastern Egypt, it was a cold place too. No wonder the Baby Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes. Out o' door, di place (Sinai) did cowl!!

From the cold and sandy desert, Egypt welcomed poor Baby Jesus and Family as Illegal Refugees----Matthew 2:13–15.

This story echoes deeply in our present context, especially here in Jamaica. For as Joseph and Mary huddled in fear, so too do Haitian families today who cross the stormy waters of the shark-infested Windward Passage seeking safety, escaping homes ravaged by wretched poverty, terrorist gangsters and dreadful disaster after disaster. They come in peace exhausted but with hope in their eyes, readily surrendering, begging for a chance to be safe among kith and kin, and to taste a better life. They too want to escape deadly violence, to work, to build new lives and to be able to send back home "a little something" of their honest earnings via Western Union,  Sèvis Finansye Fonkoze (SFF), and MoneyGram. Many are artistic or skilled people. And they can cook!

Are we, who celebrate the Refugee Child, turning a blind eye to these families with children in their weakened arms, their rickety boats and their trembling wombs? Are we deaf to the echoes of Herod's cruelty amidst the whispers of fear and prejudice in the Cabinet Room and around us? Have we forgotten the words of God from Exodus: "Do not mistreat or oppress the foreigner among you, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt"? (Exodus 23:9)

Esteemed and beloved Governor General, can you not say a quiet word about righteousness, wisdom and compassion in the ears of those who govern how Jamaica is treating desperate refugees from Haiti? You used to counsel. You used to pray. Have you lost that noble skill, conviction and "testimony"(reputation) to protect , Sir?

Remember, brothers and sisters, that Jesus himself declared in Matthew's Gospel, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40) Do we not deny Him when we deny our Haitian brothers and sisters a safe haven? Why can littler Trinidad and Tobago accept and humanely host 36,000+ Venezuelan refugees in less than 5 years, but much bigger Jamaica demeans the cream of our normally noble security forces by requiring them to stoop to the repeated refoulement of less than 145 desperate black people from the nearest and most populous CARICOM Nation, Haiti, in the dead of night with new "sanitary napkins",---to quote the usually measured but, of late, obligingly shallow and crass Jamaica Information Service.

Let us not deploy ships of war when the manger beckons us to build bridges. Let us not harden our hearts where Christ preached acceptance. Let us open our communities and our tribunals, to those seeking refuge, just as Joseph, Jesus and Mary were welcomed in Egypt. We Jamaicans are neither Nazis nor racist white Apartheid Boers of a bygone South Africa. Jamaica spoke with a mighty and principled voice those days and up to the last decade.

In helping a Haitian family, we offer sanctuary not just to them, but to the Christ child and perhaps even angels among them. In sharing our resources, we echo the generosity of the Magi, The Three Wise Men, who brought gifts to the newborn King. In extending a hand of welcome, we fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah: "Open your doors to the homeless, and do not turn away the one who is in trouble." (Isaiah 58:7). Our cousins are cowering and crying out of profound trouble.

This season of joy must be a season of action. Let us be voices for justice, advocating for fair and humane treatment of our Haitian brothers and sisters and their children. Let us offer our skills and resources, working with organizations to support their needs. Let us build bridges of understanding, dispelling myths and biases with the light of truth and compassion.

Our leaders, particularly, must heed this call. As the Psalmist urges in verse 1 of Psalm 1: "Blessed is the man that sitteth not in the seat of the scornful." Let not the halls of power be consumed by divisive rhetoric and disdain. Let our Cabinet, and all who govern, rise above and "kick weh" the scornful seat and lead with humility and compassion.

May their decisions, like ours, be constrained by the guiding principle of Matthew 25:40 – that in welcoming the stranger, we welcome Christ himself. Let us re-discover a Jamaica where every soul, regardless of origin, finds a haven in our collective embrace, a nation blessed not by walls and county class fighting vessels but by bridges, guided not by scorn but by the love and inclusivity of the season.

May this be our Christmas gift to one another, and to the world, eh Sister Elaine?


Dennis A. Minott, PhD.

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