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Liberation for EU migrants

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13: 44

One of the most challenging issues facing us today is the hundreds of deaths of folk seeking to migrate to European Union countries through North Africa.

We in Jersey are rejoicing over our own Liberation from German forces in 1945. Are we facing up to this particular dilemma?

Protocol Three to the UK’s Treaty of Accession to the Common Market (the Treaty of Rome) deals with Jersey’s special position within the European Union.  The Protocol obliges Jersey to participate in the free movement of labour within the EU. So the closure of EU borders to non-EU citizens is in fact a Jersey policy.

In some respects, therefore, we Jersey folk are trying to stop terribly needy people – people without hope in the world – from achieving their liberation, from starting afresh. A week or two ago the leading German Newspaper put it like this - "We don't want migrants to drown. But we don't want them over here. So what do we really want to do?"

What is the right answer? Is it that we in Jersey – for instance - should accept thousands of migrants – and suffer a decline in living standards so as to bless them? The problem with that is our own self-interest. So we devise reasons (other than our self-interest) to justify keeping the borders closed. We blame the migrants themselves – or their corrupt or failed governments – for their plight. We justify their non-liberation.
‘If every least scrawl of a Picasso has tremendous value because Picasso made it, so we too as God’s creations each have unimaginable intrinsic worth.’ (Pete Lowman)

We cannot see the injustice of condoning the inequalities of privilege. Back around BC 700, a prophet in Israel named Isaiah had a message for those individuals who expanded their borders and closed them to others. “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land.”

With great personal regret I don’t have a glib answer to the migrant problem. But I do know, with great sadness, that the identical situation has occurred all the way back through history. I do, with great sadness, know that the identical situation is occurring today in many other places across the globe.

Nevertheless, come with me this morning back to AD 30. Let’s think about the parable of Jesus Christ in bold above. This parable is spoken only to Jesus’ closest followers. They’re the privileged ones. Matthew wrote this. He was an eye-witness. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

This amazing parable is about Jesus. The heavenly realm is all about the man – the Son of God – who finds treasure hidden in a field. That treasure is people – human beings across the globe. That treasure is in a field. The field is this self-seeking world where self-seekers are happy to see others die as long as they themselves are – and remain - AOK.
‘Jesus Christ never met an unimportant person. That is why God sent his Son to die for us. If someone dies for you, you must be important.’ (M C Cleveland)

But this man – the man in Jesus’ parable – finding this hidden treasure covers it again, so that this treasure of great value – people – remains hidden from the sight of other people. (The real treasure of the EU migrants is hidden to us, isn’t it?) Then he sells absolutely everything he has, buys the field, and redeems – liberates - that treasure.

This man – in Jesus’ parable – doesn’t count the cost of liberating others. He pays the price for the whole field. Personally. In full. He dies on their behalf, in fact. Not for this man the concept of helping others only if it costs him nothing. Not for this man the condoning of the inequalities of privilege out of self-interest. This man redeems – liberates - this treasure even when it costs him everything.

No wonder that folk find it extremely difficult to follow Jesus. Jesus himself said that a servant (a servant of Jesus that is) will be like his master – like Jesus. He or she will begin to want to bless the needy – even if it means personal suffering.

This has very little to do with the Christian religion – with attending Christian churches. Jesus is far more real than that.

Richard Syvret

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