They say to never discuss politics or religion.
I need to talk about both because this issue is bigger than both.
My Mother asked me to bring her to Mass this morning. I would describe myself as more spiritual than religious but I connect more with her parish than I do to most. It was nice. The church she attends is in Camden, NJ. If you are not familiar, Camden has seen better times. Its a small city with a high crime/murder rate and a lot of kind, hard working people. I have to drive her there. I wouldn’t want my 80 year old mother getting lost and wandering around the city.
So why do I drive my mother all the way into Camden for mass?
-The church. It was built in 1864.The wooden pews are worn smooth from 155 years of praying hands. The old pipe organ blasts out velvety notes that no new instrument could replicate. It has amazing old stained glass windows. Sometimes I feel like I could just get lost in them.
-The clergy. These people work in one of the poorest cities in the nation. They are the real deal. They show up at the hospital when I am sick. They take care of the poor. They somehow knit this diverse parish into one community.
-The people. I walked in this morning and was greeted by a Hispanic lady that helps around the church. I got a full body hug and a big old smile. Before mass starts the Father John walks through the church welcoming people and reminding my mother not to talk in church. He loves to tease her. A few of Mom’s friends slide into our pew and there are more hugs. Then he asks us to greet the people around us. The good mornings and handshakes go on and on. No one is left out.
We are all connected. Every race, every person.
The sermon today was the story of the Good Samaritan. I guess most people know the story but in case you don’t, here are the basics: A Lawyer asks Jesus how to get into heaven. Jesus says, you know the law, you tell me. The lawyer says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Then the lawyer says, but who is my Neighbor? Jesus tells the lawyer a story.
A guy gets robbed and beat up bad. He is unconscious on the side of the road. A priest comes by but ignores the man. A Levite comes by and ignores the guy. Then a Samaritan guy sees him and takes care of him and helps him. The idea is that to Love Thy Neighbor, you have to realize EVERYONE is your neighbor.
So what I hear out of all this that Jesus is saying it all comes down to this.
Take care of each other.
I couldn’t help but think of the refugee camps on our southern border. We know they are given inadequate food, medical care, living conditions. There have been several deaths. Hundreds of young children have gotten lost in the system and will never be returned to their parents. There are reports of sexual abuse and every sort of cruelty.
I know that during WWII our country imprisoned 100,000+ Japanese and other Asians but not under conditions like this. No matter your politics, if you think…they just should not have come here, if you think our immigration system is broken etc..thats OK. Our country was founded on the concept of religious freedom and freedom of speech. We can agree to disagree on that stuff.
The terrible part, the part of all this that would make Jesus cry, the part we all know deep down is wrong, is the subhuman living conditions. They need a roof over their heads, decent food portions, clean water, basic health care, enough space to sit/lay down, sanitation/access to showers, protection from abuse and a way to be returned to their families.
They currently are not getting any of this.
I grew up believing the Americans took the high road. Americans tried to do the right thing. We helped people less fortunate. We were the good guys.
Come on Americans. This is wrong. Give them toothbrushes and fresh water. Keep accurate records of who these kids belong to. If they get sick, treat them. If they need more food, feed them. They deserve a bed and a roof. Or just let private charities in to supply their needs. We treat criminals better than this.
Even better, keep them with their parents. Please.
There is NOTHING more inhuman than taking away someone’s baby or child.
No matter your faith or lack there of, this is just wrong.
Jesus said it so well. He didn’t even mention the other 9 commandments.
How do we get into heaven? How do we do the right things?
What does Jesus say is the MOST important thing he wants from us?
Love thy neighbor. (and everyone is your neighbor)