He was moved by compassion when he saw him

A father in his twenties and his little daughter were drowned two weeks ago trying to cross a river into the United States.  The photo of their bodies, still floating faces downward on the river’s edge, shocked and saddened all those who saw it.

Yet there are thousands of migrants on the move in Asia, Africa, Europe and America – all seeking a better life. It is only when we meet one or two migrants as in the photo, or as I did recently in the flesh, that we can begin to grasp the human suffering involved.

The one I met – let us call him Simon – was in prison in Zambia for entering the country illegally on his way to South Africa.  He had hopes of a better life there for himself and in the support he could send to his family in the eastern DR Congo. It happened that I was involved in trying to get Simon out of prison even if it meant deportation back to the Congo.  He was ill when I met him and he pleaded; ‘I am dying in this place and have no one to help me, even to connect with my people at home’.

Money had to change hands and there were long delays but eventually he was taken to the border and left there still sick and without the means of travelling further. The Congo is a big country and it took him five weeks, with stays in hospital on the way, to reach home. I was touched by the way he found the means for sending me a few words, via Whats Ap, every few days to tell me of his progress.  But I was also sad and frustrated at the way Simon – and many like him – are treated all over the world.

Just as the will to respond to climate change is not there in many of the powerful people who could make a difference, so it is also lacking in this other global tragedy of migration. We are often reminded that we are all migrants if you just go back a bit in history.  The United States was built on migration and Britain welcomed many from the West Indies and Pakistan in the years after World War II. But now voters in the developed nations are unwilling to support their governments if they open their doors and so migrants are boxed in like spectators at a football match who can’t get out of the stadium because the gates won’t open.

This Sunday we read about the Good Samaritan, a story of Jesus known even by millions beyond the Church.  It is about a man who wants to help someone in need and no consideration of what is ‘feasible’ clouds his mind. He acts – whatever the consequences. This is not a wild reckless action but something based on a belief that, if I do what is right, things will work out even if I do not see how at this moment. The ‘law’ that I follow here is not ‘in heaven’ or ‘beyond the seas’ but ‘is very near to you … in your heart’.

14 July 2019                            Sunday 15 C

Deuteronomy 30:10-14           Colossians 1:15-20                  Luke 10:25-37

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