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The Prince of Peace and The Neighbours: Egypt's Example of Welcome and Justice

Brothers and sisters, as we approach the joyful celebration of Christmas, a story resonates deeply: the flight of the Holy Family, seeking refuge in Egypt from Herod's murderous decree. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, entered the world and in short order became a displaced child. His short-term crib was an open box in a stable designed to hold feed or fodder for livestock such as horses, cattle, and small ruminants. 

This story echoes poignantly in our present world, especially here in Jamaica. Families from neighbouring Haiti cross the sea, fleeing poverty, violence, and disaster after disaster, in search of safety and a chance at a better life. They arrive exhausted, yet hopeful, seeking a haven like Joseph and Mary and that Wondrous Boy sought haven in Egypt.

Are we, who celebrate the refugee Christ child, turning a blind eye to these families with children in their arms, their boats laden with dreams, some wombs laden with child, and their hearts laden with fear? Have we forgotten the message of Exodus: "Do not mistreat or oppress the foreigner among you, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt"? (Exodus 23:9)

Our esteemed leaders have the power to shape how Jamaica treats those seeking refuge. Can they not find wisdom and compassion in their hearts, remembering the Lord's words 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)

Instead of deploying county-class ships of war to refoule the desperate, let us build bridges of understanding. Let us open our communities and our hearts to those seeking refuge, dispelling myths and biases with the light of truth and compassion. Let us remember, our own Jamaicans are no strangers to struggle and displacement ourselves.

Helping a Haitian family is not just offering sanctuary; it is welcoming the Christ child, potentially welcoming angels in disguise. Sharing our resources echoes the generosity of the Magi, and embracing the stranger fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah: "Open your doors to the homeless, and do not turn away the one who is in trouble." (Isaiah 58:7). Are not Haitians of all stripes in 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. Let us offer our skills and resources, working with organizations and institutions to support their needs.

Our leaders, particularly, must heed this call. Let us, in the spirit of Christmas, "kick weh" the scornful seat of Psalm1 verse1 and lead with humility and compassion. May their decisions, like ours, be guided by the principle of Matthew 25:40, welcoming the stranger as we welcome Christ.

Together, 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 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. 

Oh, how I wish that I could enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner cooked by a happy couple from Haiti. Every Haitian that I know can cook, especially their own common turkey, better than we. It is called: 

  • Vyann Dindan ak Lait Kokoye ak Pois Congo, sèvi avèk Bissap pou mwen, tanpri.

  • (English: Smoked Turkey with Coconut Milk and Gungo Peas served with Bissap for me)

  • For New Year's day 2024, I want a Trini couple to make me Pastelles and Chicken Pelau with a slight dash of Angostura Bitters in di Mauby to di sweet sung an deh twang wid Parang

...errr, Merry Christmas!

Dennis A. Minott, PhD

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