Monday, September 30, 2013

Welcoming the Foreigner

"Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?" (Mt 25:37-39)

Jesus will not be checking for "proper" documentation when he comes to judge the nations.  He will, however, be checking our hearts and reviewing our concrete actions regarding the questions listed above.  Without a doubt, he will also welcome to his table those whom the world considers "least."

In a recent press conference, Pope Francis went so far as to say that human mobility "finds its apex in Jesus the Savior, a foreigner in the world of men, who continues his work of salvation through the foreigners of today, migrants and refugees."  Christ is the Foreigner of foreigners.  Whatever we do--or don't do--for migrants and refugees, we do unto the Lord himself.
With this simple truth in mind, the U.S. Bishops are once again calling for meaningful and just immigration reform in our nation.  This calendar of events provides a glimpse of initiatives during the next month--opportunities designed to help transform minds and hearts on this all too divisive issue.  The "Justice for Immigrants" effort also includes a very straightforward postcard campaign, as a means of taking action on behalf of these modern-day "strangers" who are hungry and thirsty and often imprisoned.
Cardinal George's recent statement on the issue provides clear principles which should guide legislation--and inform our consciences--on this issue:
  • Provide a path to citizenship for undocumented persons in the country;
  • Preserve family unity as a cornerstone of our national immigration system;
  • Provide legal paths for low-skilled immigrant workers to come and work in the United States;
  • Restore due process protections to our immigration enforcement policies; and
  • Address the root causes of migration, such as persecution and economic disparity.
Let's pray that hearts and minds will continue to be transformed.  Let's pray that, when we come face-to-face with the Lord, we will hear these incredible words of welcome: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world....[For] whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Mt 25:40).

Peace and best wishes,

P.S.  The Health Care Conscience Rights Act returns to the forefront of the U.S. Congress this month; please consider voicing your support for religious liberty, since freedom of conscience is essential if we are to respond to Christ's call ("If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me" [Rev 3:20]).