Franciscan Moments @Saint Miriam: November 26, 2018


Well, it looks like after a very contentious election, we find ourselves back at the border. Our eyes, as a nation, are fixated on the women, men, and children fleeing poverty and cartels and the lack of food and work and the kind of ‘hell’ we could never concoct in our wildest American imaginations. But, sadly, we have made it another ‘political football’, akin to gun control and regulation, rather than the severe humanitarian crisis that it is; and one, as must be noted, that we as a nation helped create.

It never ceases to amaze me what grabs our attention as a people who claim to be founded on the ideals of a Judeo-Christian foundation. For instance, Fire-frazzled Northern California, dealing with the raging Camp Fire blaze that has left a staggering toll. The fire has cost us at least 85 people’s lives, with over 249 listed as missing, and has consumed nearly 19,000 buildings, most of them homes. But, nary an outcry from the people, and little more than rhetoric from the politicians. It just isn’t juicy enough.

Today, I was blasted on Facebook when someone inquired of my post that showed my personal utter dismay and shock that we would tear-gas women and children at our border, where are all the priests, clergy, and pastors at the border? Really? I thought. Where are all of you, the people who claims to be God-fearing? Where are you bibles today?

If you want to disrupt a beautifully harmonious dinner party, all you have to do is bring up the radioactive issue of immigration. There might not be a more heated political topic in contemporary American life, save gun control. Even we as Pastors show a deep wariness to discuss the issue may stem from the politically charged nature of the national dialogue on immigration, or from the fear that by addressing the issue they will inevitably offend some in their congregation, putting attendance, tithes, and offerings at risk.

The issue of immigration is actually a very common theme in Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word, gare— which most English translations render “foreigner,” “sojourner,” or “alien,” but is best translated as simply “immigrant” — appears in one form or another some 92 times in the Old Testament. Most often, we find the immigrant referenced in a positivesense. In fact, God sets the standard for the Israelites that the immigrants who come to dwell among them should be treated “as the native among you”. We are far from that in our own debate. We are on the verge of hate.

Now, to be clear, I am not – in any way – proposing that we directly apply these rules for Israel to our nation or demanding or advocating for open borders with no regulation, but God’s love for immigrants – and others who are vulnerable– is unchangingand should guide our contemporary response if we truly believe.

As I stated in my Facebook reply, there are no easy answers, but I know that hatred and rejection of another human being fleeing to us for safety and a better life will never be among them. And, this is not just a priest or clergy issue to handle. It is a humanitarian issue to be solved through love and action together, absent hate.

Perhaps we should get our favorite version of the bible and this time use it for good, rather than as a weapon of mass destruction, and realize that the borders we should really be praying about are the ones around our own hearts.
How will you pray away hate and isolation?  Do you see the Devil uses isolation as a chief means to the destruction of all of us and of God’s created?  Do you truly believe in the inherent dignity of the human person, even when that dignity is extended to the migrant and the foreigner?

3 Responses to “Franciscan Moments @Saint Miriam: November 26, 2018”

  1. Donna says:

    Thank you for continuing to raise these important, and yes, radioactive issues. Our core values have been moved out to the fringe with hate, divisiveness and violence moving closer to center. My glimmer of hope this weekend came when I saw a poll that said 60% of Americans are not liking DJTs racial stance … not 60% of democrats but of Americans. Cheap currency right now as I think that number should be much higher but it’s movement in the right direction – that said, I just don’t know what it will take to start a major shift back to our core values. Incarcerating children didn’t do it so I’m afraid that tear gassing them won’t either. After this firestorm of hate burns itself out …hopefully the seeds of new and better life will be planted. I know this tears you apart. I am so sorry for that but am also grateful that you continue to shine a light on it. -d

  2. Joseph Wenger says:

    Dear Father Jim,

    The U.S. admits more legal immigrants into the country than the next 6 nations combined. Also, unlike many other countries you can actually become a citizen. Nobody wants to see the crisis on the border, but there are at least a billion people in the world living in hellish abject poverty (another three times that in close to that level) Should we allow entry of all of them? What sort of nation would we become if we did? Don’t we have enough poor here whom are not adequately cared for? I only raise these question because the debate seems very one-sided and driven by emotion rather than reason. Wouldn’t it be better to control the border and increase aid to the impoverished countries with some sort of controls to make sure those governments don’t steal the aid like they usually do? Wouldn’t it be better to control the border and increase legal permits to enter? The situation seems out of control and getting worse. Encouraging more people to make the trek north seems counter productive and lose/lose.

    Respectfully submitted,


    • admin says:

      Hi Joe – Thank you for your voice. I think I have been a voice of moderation and not one of divisiveness. I am sorry you feel differently, but will always remain willing to listen, as proven in my daily walk as pastor.

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