Welcoming the Stranger

Thanks to all who came out for OneLife LA and who have engaged in various efforts to uphold the life and dignity of the human person in recent days. This Sunday’s readings continue to highlight the shape of our worship of the God of Israel and Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah calls us to

 

Share your bread with the hungry,

shelter the oppressed and the homeless;

clothe the naked when you see them,

and do not turn your back on your own.

 

In the face of injustice, it is by these acts of mercy, justice, and accompaniment that our “like shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed.” Think of the division and woundedness that we are witnessing in our land at the moment. Isaiah’s prescription from the LORD for us is:

If you remove from your midst

oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;

if you bestow your bread on the hungry

and satisfy the afflicted;

then light shall rise for you in the darkness.

 

It is the practice of justice and righteousness and our treatment of our neighbor that makes us “the salt of the earth” or “the light of the world.” As Jesus told his disciples, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5).

 

What do others see when they look at the Church today? When they watch Jesus’ disciples today? Right now the eyes of the world are on the United States and the new administration, particularly focused on the question of how the U.S. will relate with those on the ‘outside.’ For Christians, we are members of a global community, a different nation, a Church without borders. What can the land in which we reside as migrant pilgrims on our way to heaven learn from us about how to welcome the stranger?

 

Here are some ways to act in public witness to our commitments around welcoming Jesus in the stranger and some readings for your reflection:

 

ACTION ALERT

Jesus calls us to “welcome the stranger.” Let Congress know that you DO NOT support President Trump’s proposed halt on refugee admissions! Call 1-888-562-8232 for brief talking points and direct connection to the Capitol switchboard to speak with the office of your members of Congress. Calls are the most effective but emails can also be sent at justiceforimmigrants.org.

 

USCCB Committee On Migration Chair Strongly Opposes Executive Order Because It Harms Vulnerable Refugee And Immigrant Families
Statement from Catholic Legal Immigration Network, INC. (CLINIC), which includes a statement from our Bishop Kevin Vann, chairman of CLINIC’s board of directors and head of the Diocese of Orange in California: “Refugees have enriched our society in countless ways. These newcomers seek protection and the promise of equality, opportunity and liberty that has made our country thrive. When we reject refugees, we negate the welcome that was given to so many of our ancestors.”

 

Head of Catholic Relief Services Reacts to Executive Order Banning Refugees

 

Interesting statement on the harm to Christian communities abroad and the ways these actions make the U.S. less safe:

ASIA/IRAQ – Chaldean Patriarch: the selective reception of migrants based on religion announced by Trump is “a trap for Christians”

 

May God make us a light to the nations, a Christian people that welcome the stranger, whether in the guise of the child in the womb, the refugee stranded at the airport, the immigrant in detention of the woman living on the street. And may God give us the courage to bring that special claim that the orphan, the widow, and the stranger have upon us (repeated over and over in scripture!) to shine a light into the darkness that so often characterizes our public policy. The LORD protects the stranger! May we do likewise!

 

Peace and All Good,

Greg Walgenbach

Director, Office of Life, Justice & Peace