Solidarity with the poor
The most compelling example of solidarity in all of history is Christ himself. God becoming human, becoming one of us. Not just suffering like us, but suffering with us. God knows what we go through, because he became one of us. There is no solidarity greater than this.
Jesus not only demonstrates solidarity but demands it of us.
The fundamental revelation in Jesus’ teaching, “The Sheep and Goats” (Matthew 25) is that Jesus himself experiences a cosmic-level solidarity with the suffering. Furthermore, that what we do to the “least of these brothers and sisters” we do unto him. He did not use this parable inspirationally, as in “imagine that the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned is me, and treat them the way you would treat me, someone you love and serve”. Instead, he spoke in a declarative way that violates our understanding of time and space: “What you have done to the least of these you have done unto me”. It is cosmic. It is final. It is beyond our comprehension yet demands action from us.
When God became one of us he could have chosen any life. He chose that of a refugee. Few details of Jesus’ early life are known, but Matthew’s gospel tells us this: violent, state-sanctioned persecution forced Jesus’ family to flee Israel and go to Egypt, where they lived as refugees. The experience of Jesus and his parents is mirrored in the challenges faced by 70 million displaced people in our world today.
There is a lot of misinformation about migrants and refugees, and we’ve seen a growing sentiment that these are people who are undeserving of our attention, care and concern. But Jesus offers us a different view. He demonstrates his solidarity with us, he teaches us about his solidarity with the suffering, and he urges us to action.