A few days ago all the priests of the Diocese received a letter from Bishop Perez that he asked to be read at every mass in the Diocese this weekend. “Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ…”
Keeping in mind this letter from the bishop, I want to highlight for you one of the themes in today’s Gospel. A synagogue official, Jairus, comes to Jesus because his daughter is dying and his only hope is Jesus laying his hands on her. In the middle of going to the man’s house, a woman suffering for years and only getting worse from the attempts of doctors comes to Jesus just to touch his cloak in the hopes that his power will cure her. Jairus is desperate, the woman is desperate… and Jesus is compassionate. He takes Jairus and his wife in the room with their daughter and says, “Little girl, I say to you arise”. He looks at the woman and says, “Daughter, your faith has saved you, go in peace.” Jesus responds to their desperation with compassion.
These immigrants are desperate. They have left their homes and everything familiar to them, taken their children, and started on a journey without knowing how it will end. People do not do that unless they are desperate. And yes, I know that they are illegal immigrants but they are not illegal because of having done something morally and objectively wrong… they are labeled “illegal” because they broke laws made by men, the same laws that have now taken children from their families. And that result of the law is morally wrong. The way we have treated these families is wrong, and very far from being Christian.
Now please understand… we should have a system of immigration. And the comprehensive, just, and compassionate reform of our system that the bishop speaks about is no small or simple undertaking. But in light of what we have seen in the past few weeks we cannot be indifferent. We cannot go on to be distracted by the next news story. We must take the laws we have and find the way to correct what is broken and evil within them… and we can only do that if we look at these immigrants as human. As desperate humans.
A week ago I listened to the interview of a man who previously worked at the detention centers the children have been held at. He quit before it all came into the media spotlight, and the interviewer asked him what was the final straw. He said there were a lot of things, but the final straw was three siblings. Already separated from their parents, they were now being separated from each other, the youngest to the young group, the middle one with the girls, and the older one with the boys. They wouldn’t let go of each other. They only spoke Portuguese and the worker’s supervisor was mad, telling him to translate to them that they can’t hug, that they have to separate. He tried to convince the oldest boy that he had to be strong for his younger siblings. The boy looked at him and said, “How?” That was when the man quit, telling his supervisor, “what we are doing is not human.”
This is what we cannot be indifferent to. This is why our bishop is asking all of us to pray, and to be compassionate.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.