Wapangrenba Imchen Academic Dean
Imagine this scene, the cracking chill wind striking upon the gentle face of that decent young lady who seldom travels a long distance. On an inexperienced gentle arm, an infant baby is cooing uncomfortably, feeling cold on that chill winter night. A young man threatened by the cries of the genocides in Ramah, worried about food and shelter, and nervous about the journey. Following the gasping journey, while the rejection memories in Bethlehem are still afresh, the young family has to find a rented house in a new country. Can you imagine yourself in the shoe of a persecuted migrant? Do you recollect some of the painful migration stories during COVID-19?
“Life was beautiful until one morning they beat up my father to death- the reason being he was the village chairman. Following this with one of my uncles at the age of twelve, I fled to Thailand. I was separated from my mother, and my family was scattered to different refugee camps and places.” That was the story of Kedo (using the name with permission), and like him, many of my students share their painful childhood memories of fleeing and the hardship of a refugee.
We have heard from the Labor and Employment Minister that around 10 million migrants have attempted to return home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown in India. We have seen in the news about thousands of migrant workers heading home walking or bicycling hundreds of kilometers this year. Some died on the way, others met accidents on the road, and a few were beaten up by the police. Do you think that a person becomes a migrant or a refugee willingly? No, but for survival.
Persecutions, discriminations, and genocides of different kinds are the realities with which we are living today. These conditions of the realities and the experiences invite us to retroactively place ourselves with the cold winter night journey of a young Jewish migrant family through Via Maris. Persecution and genocides forced the family of Jesus out of their hometown and country. What was the reason for the genocide in Ramah? Herod suspected and was afraid that the newborn king would dethrone him. Why are we being discriminated against and persecuted? You have a different skin tone, food habits, and belief system, and therefore they have a suspicion that triggers fear in them. This dissenting voice of fear and suspicion is a vicious circle that is hard to tamper with, yet to accommodate this for us is perilous.
Situations and conditions force a person to be a migrant, and this Via Maris narratives challenge us to share our love and be gracious toward the migrants. Secondly, the story of the young Jewish migrant family to Egypt who patiently waits and hopes on God persuades us that in hope lies the power of the human soul to turn to God and live beyond our circumstances.
Prayer: Dear God, give us the courage to stand against the dissenting voice of fear and suspicion. Grant us the serenity to live in hope beyond our circumstances. Amen.