On a scale of 1-10, how are you doing with the great commandment?
In a wonderful way, the prophet Isaiah opens up for us a challenging vista, timely in our age when there is talk of a wall and deportations and ending of the Dreamer’ options for infants who were born here. He lays out a simple foundation and a simple rationale – do not mistreat or oppress the alien, because we all once were aliens. Pope Francis, in his address for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees laid out this image:
Not infrequently, the arrival of migrants, displaced persons, asylum seekers and refugees gives rise to suspicion and hostility. There is a fear that society will become less secure, that identity and culture will be lost, that competition for jobs will become stiffer and even that criminal activity will increase.
A change in attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – toward attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.
I wonder if this is why Jesus commanded us to love – because he knew how resistant we might be on so many levels and so many fronts – and not just with the refugees and migrants and asylum seekers, but even within our own families and parishes…
America Magazine has a wonderful article with a three question examination of conscience about immigration. Let me share the first two as a challenge to us all.
Do I understand who these vulnerable immigrants are and why they are here?
Although undocumented immigrants come to the United States from everywhere, the overwhelming majority in recent decades come from our shared American continent: North America (Mexico), Central America, the Caribbean and South America. Although they are our global neighbors, we often fail to stand with them in solidarity.
Have I resisted the rhetoric that undocumented people are illegal and criminals?
Humans migrate because of violence, collapsing economies, climate devastation, persecution, political oppression, religious intolerance and family reunification. Multiple studies also show that immigrants are more law-abiding than native-born populations. Yet, it is so easy to cast them as the enemy… and not see them as my brothers and sisters.
Isaiah says it simply: you shall not mistreat the stranger and alien in your midst – for we were all once like they are, and are all refugees on the journey from this homeland to our heavenly one.
So, 1-10, how are you doing with the great commandment in terms of the refugee and the migrant among us?
Secondly, toward the end of the ‘wedding season’ in St. Louis, I had one simple thought that has been my examination of conscience. No one walks down the aisle thinking: “I will love my moments-away- from-being-husband/wife with 60% of my heart, mind and soul.
I don’t think that is how we are hard wired. Nor is that how we give ourselves to anyone or anything. Heart. Soul. Mind. Everything that you are and hope to be… Have you pledged that to your God these days? And not settled for anything less? Have you pledged that to your neighbor? and to yourself? Not 60%, not 75%, not even 90% – but with ALL your heart, mind and soul…
Let that be your morning prayer – Lord, let me be ALL IN today – with 100% of my heart, mind and soul. And let that be your examination of Conscience at the end of the day: “Did I give ALL of me in service to my God, my spouse, my children, myself this day?”