NATIONAL CATHOLIC CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA PASTORAL ON IMMIGRATION and our Christian Obligation “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp [Inscribed on the Statue of Liberty]
This issue before us today isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. It isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. It is a human issue, a moral issue, a dignity issue. It’s about love. It’s about Jesus way of love for us Christians. It’s about His Golden rules of love:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[Matthew 22:37-40]
So, what is America becoming? Are we to be a nation of walls that block God’s love? Are we to be a nation that blocks physical, psychological, spiritual and moral righteousness? Are we to be a nation that lives a type of love invented by the human mind rather than the divine love freely given to us by our God, “who is love” [1 John 4:7-21].
We as Christians, then, need to be true to the Jesus message. This message needs to shout to us that God’s love is an all encompassing love, with no exceptions [Romans 9:35-39]. For too long now, I believe, we’ve permitted ourselves the liberty to compromise His love so as to fit it into our ways and wants to form what is now our American lifestyle. Now we are being challenged about the very core of what it is to be called a Christian.
All to many times over the past we’ve reasoned our way to a comfortable lifestyle here in our great nation. Even the poor are rich here if we but compare them to the poor of the worn-torn countries around the world. Now, we Christians are being confronted with a way of living that is foreign to most of us Americans, a way that is xenophobic, isolationist, and unrecognizable to the Christian Way. We are being called to not just resist this new lifestyle, but to look from the depths of our being at how we have lived the fullness of the Christian concept of love and our need to be faithful to His love. Perhaps, then, this immigration issue is just the tip of the iceberg as to how we, as Christians, have lived the Lord’s love in the past and how we need to live God’s love in our future, both as a nation and as individuals.
We need to come together as a Christian people, putting aside our political philosophies and begin with a lot of humble appreciation for what we have been given, and with the need to learn how to sacrifice for the many who have nothing, who are lost, or are displaced, and who are being hurt and killed on a daily basis in our nation and beyond us. We must live beyond the fears of the day, knowing that living His love is to accept the fear it will produce by its very nature.
We need to be those who comfort and welcome all God’s children into our arms and our nation’s arms, trusting in God’s ways and not in the ways of this fear and negativity and, ultimately, wrong action.
Let us never forget that the Holy Family was once homeless and refugees living in a foreign land. Can we be any less welcoming of our current refugees than was the Holy Family fleeing to a foreign land seeking safety and being welcomed? We need to look at every refugee who seeks our help and see the faces of the Holy Family. We need to respond to the injustices perpetuated upon them, the helpless and those begging for our help and aid.
We’ve got to be convinced that God’s love has no boundaries [1 John 3:17-18] and that His love is always open to even the dangers of the unknown . We’ve got to remember that God’s love has no walls preventing starving and helpless people from coming to us. We’ve got to remember, in our humility and gratefulness, that what we have been blessed with, that this wealth must be shared with all God’s children without exceptoin. And we’ve got to remember that this cannot be just words we preach or commit to but an action we live as easily as we breathe.
We’ve got to stop playing God and begin living on God’s terms, by showing ourselves as his “Other Self.” We’ve got to make sure we project Jesus in our actions and find Jesus in every single person He calls to us. We’ve got to stop trying to control God through our politic and begin living God through our actions and attitudes. We need to go beyond our comfortable lifestyles and be willing to sacrifice so others may have the same freedoms we’ve been blessed with.
The burden is heavy but we also know that the burden will be light [Matthew 11:28-30] if we permit the Lord to walk with us in this journey towards equality and dignity of self and country. We are called to resist the evil [1 Peter 5:8-9] and compromised ways that are becoming so apparent around us. Let this burden we willingly carry be our light and our drive to live Jesus without compromise. And let us see all God’s children as our brothers and sisters, not just in our writings or proclaimed from our lips but rather by our definitive action. Resist and have faith! Resist and be persistent in His love!
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” [Matthew 25:35-36]
We are called to do it His way. We need to avoid the little “fiefdoms” we’ve created with their boundaries and misguided philosophies, theologies, ideologies and politic. We need to trust, not just a little bit more, but a lot more in the Jesus Way. Welcome all! “Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God, is with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:9]
Blessings to All,
+Thomas J. Sterner,
National Catholic Church of North America