As we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the visiting magi from the East, think about 7-year-old Jakelin Caal and Felipe Gómez Alonzo, 8. They were two migrant children who died in the past couple weeks while being held in Custom and Border Protection custody. Like Jesus’ parents, they searched for safe shelter as they fled tyranny.
When the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem, they found the Holy Family huddled in a humble abode a long distance from their homes. The magi were searching for the promised child who was born to change history. Jakelin and Felipe traveled with their mothers and arrived at the United States border where they were placed in detention centers without the medical attention their young bodies desperately needed. Instead of seeing a doctor, their mothers were taunted and reportedly told they were to blame for their children’s illnesses.
Take another look at the story of Jesus and the ruler who sought to find him. Herod was a crazy king whose heart was filled with rage, hatred, and bitterness. He was afraid of the baby who would become king. The comparison between Herod and contemporary leadership that thrives on fear, anger, and division cannot be ignored or overstated. Innocent children are put at risk inside government facilities without the necessary help needed to make their lives comfortable.
Instead of welcoming families who travel dangerous roads and take high risks in search of better lives, they are met with threats, incarceration, and denied medical assistance. This is occurring today during the High Holy Days of the Christmas Season. This is happening in our name and in our country. Jesus is being mistreated and threatened today when every child and parent is denied assistance.
Where is the child? There are thousands of children and parents who find themselves today in the same condition as Mary and Joseph when they were forced to flee King Herod’s campaign to kill newborn babies. Like the migrants from Central America today, the Holy Family crossed borders and landed in Egypt where they were given sanctuary.
It is most timely and very unfortunate to see the Biblical story of Baby Jesus being reenacted in our country. We are witnesses to the cruel and ungodly behavior and attitude that perpetuate inhumane and senseless conduct toward our fellow sojourners.
Jakelin and Felipe are dead. They died because they sought sanctuary and a new way of life in America. They are our children. They are Jesus in our midst. Where is the child? Living and dying in front of us.
Happy New Year,