As Catholics, we are baptized into the Body of Christ. In the sacrament of Baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through this beautiful sacrament, we become children of God. In our role as a child of God, we are to stand tall and walk in the love of Christ. You cannot stand tall if you are leaning to the left or to the right. Our goal is to center ourselves in Christ.
When we look at the lives of the saints, we see men and women of God who stood tall and knew who they were in Christ. Many saints were martyred because they refused to move to the left or to the right. They remained steadfast in knowing who they were in Christ and by their deaths followed Him into eternity.
What would Jesus do?
Catholic Social Teaching (CST) instructs us to accept all people as children of God. It is wrong for us to assume the background and experiences of an individual based solely on the color of their skin or any other single characteristic. We are not to judge or make assumptions. Our role is to accept and provide respect for all people. We are also committed to relying on the discernment of the Holy Spirit who resides in us. Our opinion, many times, positions us to the left or to the right of issues. What would Jesus do? What would Jesus say? When we dig for the answer to these types of questions, we find the center.
Fear and Trauma
There is an overwhelming, yet justified fear that is a product of trauma. For example, we live in a country that has experienced the horrors of terrorist attacks. Our initial reaction is to identify the individuals who committed these acts. We then associate them with a group of people and sometimes begin distrusting the entire group. We do this to protect ourselves.
By the same token, those who may resemble the attackers, whether it be by race, gender, or nationality understand that it is best to shelter in place to allow time for discernment.
This is the cycle of trauma. Bad things happen. We absorb the impact. We then analyze the trauma and develop ways to protect ourselves from experiencing the same traumatic event. Rules, laws, walls, and boundaries are the result of ensuring protection from the reoccurrence of past traumatic events. When no collective plan of protection is implemented after trauma, then individuals will take matters into their own hands and do what they can to protect themselves.
What do the Popes say?
One of Pope Francis’ encyclicals is titled, Fratelli Tutti which means “brothers all.” Many Popes have written documents that teach of the brotherhood of all humanity. Jesus confirms this in scripture. He tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that the greatest commandment is to “love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” He then states that the second greatest commandment is similar. “Love your neighbor as yourselves.”
We need to show respect and provide dignity to all people. This is difficult to do when precautions are ignored and there is no protective plan in place. Today, thousands of illegal aliens come across our southern border. We do not know who they are or where they are going. Many of them have been transported to designated “sanctuary” cities throughout our country. Living in a post 9/11 era, we have become aware of the evil that exists in our world. We must never forget what has happened in our country. We must establish ways to protect ourselves. There is a current immigration process in place that includes a passport, VISA, and other identifying documents. This process seems to be ignored at our southern border.
The Catholic Church through many papal documents, such as the Fratelli Tutti, states that everyone has the right to migrate and that we, as Catholics, are to welcome strangers. But we cannot be naïve and ignore what has happened on 9/11. We must have laws and a process in place that is followed by all who desire to enter our country.
How do we get to the center?
Where is God in all of this?
As I think about these questions, I think about the story of Job in the Old Testament. In the beginning of this book, Satan has a conversation with God. Only after God provides permission does Satan move forward in attacking Job and his family. God is never asleep. He is aware of all that is happening. He knows better than any of us what is going on at our southern border. He also knows how things play out on the world stage because only He can see the world in its fullness. God is the great commander in chief and his battle plan is never failing.
In all things we are to trust God. We are to seek the will of God and listen to the discernment of the Holy Spirit. We must pray for each other and for our enemies.
This battle has just begun.