How Are You? How is Father Jim?

Every time Sean works on our school preparations, he often meets with Donna and Lorraine. Without fail, before the meetings begin, every single time, both of them always begin with “How are you? How is Father Jim? How is Katelyn?”Their asking is not just a nicety or pleasantry or even a salutation, it is a sign of respect. It is a simple, but very effective means of inquiring about someone you respect and care for, as well as meeting their humanity and their needs where they are. It is about ‘Imago Dei’, recognizing their humanity and inherent dignity given to them from their first breath, just as God created them. It is, for us, about being a Catholic.
 
This past week, a former Zion Lutheran Church member scolded me publicly for speaking out against the Administration. She told me that while she respected me, and all that we do as a church, that I was wrong for not supporting the President. I replied that she could unfollow, or even unfriendme, but that the Gospel Imperatives – nor my very soul – were for sale. I do not speak or play politics, but when you afront the very dignity of women, the immigrant, the refugee, the LGBTQ, the child, or any person of color, you are not worthy of my respect, let alone my silence.
 
I think that is what increases my fear all the more; we have become fear-mongering, inhospitable, unwelcoming people. This is sobering and very sad. We have become what the bible feared the most. What some of our congressional leaders – and most poignantly, our President – have said lately may sadly say more about the America we live in today than we may wish to admit. Those things that were once said only in secret are now safe to say out loud.
 
That is why I encourage all of us to heed our words closely, but to pay close attention to the words of those who lead us, too. After all, we are all responsible to do the work that begins with a self-examination of our own complicity, discrimination, and dehumanization of the other. We must begin to define for ourselves what is it that America should stand for, for all of its people. Instead of using the President’s tweets as a scapegoat of all that is wrong with our society, we should all focus on doing the self-work necessary to begin to embrace all non-white persons as valued members of our society, who deserve a government, and a people, that serves and respects them as much as all of us.
 
And, in case we have forgotten our way, as Christians, we have an inherent duty to see God in every human being and protect and welcome them, too. Hospitality is not meted out to those we like; it is attributed to all or we violate what we are as human beings.
 

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