During Mass yesterday evening, I was praying for God to give me a topic to write about. And, boy, did He provide one! In spades! I had never even considered the topic, but He heavily placed it on my heart.
To begin, the Gospel reading happens to be one of my favorites. Through Saint Matthew’s Gospel, we hear Jesus give us the two greatest commandments:
“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 22:37-39 (NAB RE)
How beautifully simple and, yet, gloriously complex! Because these commandments are so wonderfully simple, I think (at least I know I do) we find them complex and sometimes fall utterly short of them.
After the Gospel, our Deacon gave the homily. It was hard hitting, poignant, and moving. I asked him after Church if I could write about what he said on my blog and he said yes, with his blessings!
Deacon Marc is the principal of one of our local Catholic high schools. He began his homily yesterday by bringing up a circumstance that had occurred back in January. One of the school’s teachers asked Deacon Marc what they should tell their students in regard to the situation of immigration with the new President of the United States. You see, the teacher had students who were running the gamut of emotions over the immigration issue, from fear to excitement.
Deacon Marc did some research into what the Church teaches on immigration. I am so grateful that he did, and that he shared it with us, because it helps me clarify my thoughts. It helps me in how I would want to express my own stance. I have long believed what Deacon Marc went on to talk, but this helps me explain why.
First, the Catechism of the Catholic Church actually has a section about immigration! I won’t write out the whole thing here, but you can look it up if you want to read it for yourself. It can be found in the Catechism thus: CCC 2241.
The Catechism can be a bit confusing to read, but it does clearly state the Church’s teachings here. After reading it, and I am in agreement with Deacon Marc on this, there is no one simple solution to immigration for anyone. All countries have the right to protect and secure their country for the common good. This is a country’s right, and is for ALL countries. The right for countries to do so can be found in the second paragraph of CCC 2241. That being said, the wealthy nations have a responsibility to immigrants, to the extent that they are able. They have an obligation to welcome those coming in who are searching for safety and for a way to work legally when they are unable to find any work in their country of origin. There should be respect and protection given. This can be found in the first paragraph of CCC 2241.
In reality, this is not at all what I can see going on. There is such anger and hostility on both sides of the argument. It makes me sad. Truly, what has happened to “love thy neighbor?” Can talks not be done kindly and with respect? We all agree that immigration is something that needs to be discussed, but why do we have to do it with such bitterness?!
Deacon Marc mentioned a student at the school who “looks” foreign (how is that even determined?!!!), but is actually a natural born, legal citizen. The student found himself verbally attacked by people on the street who told him to “go back to his own country!” This breaks my heart. This teenager does not even feel accepted in his own home, the country of his birth! This, I know, is not coming close to the commandments of Christ.
Distressingly, the immigration argument is not one that is new, either. Many people from other countries experienced similar treatment. The Irish. The Polish. The Italians. The Asians. Latinos are counted among this now. This has been long running, with rancor on all sides. This is not what Christ meant by “love your neighbor.” This is not what He wants for us. As Christians, we absolutely need to examine our minds and hearts on this issue.
What the Catholic Church teaches, what the Catechism states, and what I believe are central to this subject happen to be Christ’s commandments to all of us. To love God completely and to love our neighbors as ourselves. And ALL of humanity is our neighbor. Can we not find a way to love and care for our neighbors while also securing and protecting our countries? We, as individual people, need to heed Jesus’ words and “love thy neighbor.”