The Good Samaritan Challenges Us to Give

The Parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that almsgiving is an act of charity that shares God’s love with our brothers and sisters in need.

At the end of the parable, Jesus asks his disciples to name who was “neighbor” in the story. Jesus urges his followers to prioritize love and mercy, which motivate us to do for another. Almsgiving is an exercise in mercy—a gift of self for the betterment of another.

Jesus’ invitation is to go out and be the Good Samaritan for others, to break down barriers that make us strangers and instead build bridges that make us neighbors. By going out to encounter others, we necessarily must allow others to encounter us. We walk together. We become companions on the journey. And, we become a church that goes out to encounter, as Pope Francis has so often said.

What act of almsgiving will you undertake this Lent? How will that action respond to Jesus’ invitation to “Go and do likewise”?

Find this video, featuring Lisa Hendey of CatholicMom.com, and all of CRS Rice Bowl’s Share the Journey tools for reflection, here.

CRS staff Eric Clayton

Eric Clayton works at Catholic Relief Services. He holds an MA in international media from American University and a BA in international studies and creative writing from Fairfield University. He currently lives in Baltimore with his wife, daughter, and pet hedgehog.

Praying for Racial Healing in Our Land

The following is adapted from A Prayer Service for Racial Healing in Our Land (also in Spanish), from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Perfect for Lent, this and other resources from the USCCB Racism page can help Catholics examine their consciences and pray and act in support of racial healing. 

“Racism has rightly been called America’s original sin. It remains a blot on our national life and continues to cause acts and attitudes of hatred, as recent events have made evident. The need to condemn, and combat, the demonic ideologies of white supremacy, neo-Nazism and racism has become especially urgent at this time. Our efforts must be constantly led and accompanied by prayer—but they must also include concrete action” (USCCB Executive Committee statement). People of faith call on the Divine Physician, Christ the Lord, to heal the wounds of racism throughout our land.

In Luke 10:25-37, the question is posed, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus is ready, answering with a parable. Jesus often used parables to shed light, bring new insights, and provoke a change in the hearts of listeners. We hear that someone is robbed, beaten and injured. Two walked by, ignoring the injured man, but a third came to the man’s aid, caring for his wounds and securing him safe lodging. He was the good neighbor. He was acting like Jesus, doing what God required.

Keeping this in mind, consider the scenario we are witnessing today as racism persists in our communities and in our churches. Too many walk by the victims of racism without looking deeply at their wounds or the pain inflicted on them. Many of these wounds have festered over centuries. Today’s continuing disparities in education, housing, employment, economic well-being, and leadership are not disconnected from our country’s shameful history of slavery and systemic racism. Any act of racism injures the perpetrator and the victim, threatening the dignity of both. The failure to act to end systemic racism, which is often animated in our laws, policies, and structures, hurts those who are victimized and denies all of us the opportunity to benefit from the gifts of diversity.

Jesus’ parable calls us to our obligations as Christians, to be a good neighbor: the one who stops and helps the injured; the one who does not hesitate to accept the responsibility of healing.

The signs of this time are asking us to wake up, to stand up and to speak up when we see racism. This is how we love our neighbor as ourselves.  This is how we act like Jesus. This is how we do justice and love goodness (Micah 6:8). This is how we make safe lodging for all.  This is how we begin the healing from racism in our land, writing a new parable of racial justice for this time.

Conscience is the “core and sanctuary” within us where we are alone with God and hear his call to “love good and avoid evil” and “do this, shun that” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 16).  We must exmine our conscience in light of the sin of racism, asking ourselves:

  1. Have I fully loved God and fully loved my neighbor as myself?
  2. Have I caused pain to others by my actions or my words that offended my brother or my sister?
  3. Have I done enough to inform myself about the sin of racism, its roots, and its historical and contemporary manifestations? Have I opened my heart to see how unequal access to economic opportunity, jobs, housing, and education on the basis of skin color, race, or ethnicity, has denied and continues to deny the equal dignity of others?
  4. Is there a root of racism within me that blurs my vision of who my neighbor is?
  5. Have I ever witnessed an occasion when someone “fell victim” to personal, institutional, systematic or social racism and I did or said nothing, leaving the victim to address their pain alone?
  6. Have I ever witnessed an occasion when someone “fell victim” to personal, institutional, systematic or social racism with me inflicting the pain, acting opposite of love of God and love of neighbor?
  7. Have I ever lifted up and aided a person who “fell victim” to personal, institutional, systematic or social racism and paid a price for extending mercy to the other? How did I react? Did my faith grow? Am I willing to grow even more in faith through my actions?

We must recognize that racism manifests in our own individual thoughts, attitudes, actions, and inactions. It also manifests in social structures and unjust systems the perpetuate centuries of racial injustice. We must examine our individual actions and our participation in unjust structures, seek forgiveness and move towards reconciliation. We must pray together for the will and the strength to help contribute to the healing of racism in my time:

God of Heaven and Earth,
you created the one human family
and endowed each person with great dignity.

Aid us, we pray, in overcoming the sin of racism.
Grant us your grace in eliminating this blight
from our hearts, our communities,
our social and civil institutions.

Fill our hearts with love for you and our neighbor
so that we may work with you
in healing our land from racial injustice.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

We have prayed and now, with changed hearts, let us move our feet to action.

Going Deeper:

For additional information, see the USCCB Backgrounder on Racism, the USCCB Special Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities: Report and Recommendations (2016) and U.S. Bishops Establish New Ad Hoc Committee on Racism (2017); the U.S. bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Racism, Brothers and Sisters to Us, and more resources at USCCB.org/Racism

The Good Samaritan Challenges Us to Fast

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) reminds us that fasting helps us encounter those things about ourselves that prevent us from loving God and neighbor.

How does the Parable of the Good Samaritan point to fasting? In this story, we see the Good Samaritan quite literally giving something up—his own, hard-earned money. The question then, of course, is this: How does this giving up of something make room for the needs of another in our life? How does fasting become something that is focused on and oriented towards others? Again, the parable shows us the way. What the Good Samaritan gives up immediately goes to meet the needs of another.

We can easily reflect on how we might have otherwise spent two silver coins: a cup of coffee, a meal out, etc. Do we follow the Good Samaritan’s example in our own fasting? The Good Samaritan pledges to return and promises that if the innkeeper spends more than those two coins, the Samaritan will be sure to reimburse him. That’s an act of fasting that is offered freely, without counting the cost.

How can we commit our Lenten fasts to make room for those in need in our lives—and in our world? How can our Lenten fasts remove the walls that separate us from our neighbors—and God?

Find this video, which features Dr. Hosffman Ospino, PhD, and all of CRS Rice Bowl’s Share the Journey tools for reflection.

CRS staff Eric Clayton

Eric Clayton works at Catholic Relief Services. He holds an MA in international media from American University and a BA in international studies and creative writing from Fairfield University. He currently lives in Baltimore with his wife, daughter, and pet hedgehog.

Accompanying Immigrants in the Archdiocese of Washington

Thousands of immigrants—mostly from Latin America—and their families gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in late 2016 to participate in the annual Walk with Mary celebration. In his homily, the Most Reverend Mario E. Dorsonville, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, echoed the palpable feeling of uncertainty that weighted heavily in the hearts of those in attendance following a vitriolic election season that left many immigrants fearful about their futures. With this in the background, we gathered to place ourselves under the protective mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

A year later, on December 9, 2017, thousands of immigrants—this time including a significant number of non-Hispanics—at once braved the freezing weather and Walked with Mary. In a celebration that included the recitation of the rosary using seven languages, a special Chinese song dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the recitation of the Universal Prayers in multiple languages, Bishop Dorsonville once again shed light on the plight of immigrants today. Together, close to three thousand immigrants left the Basilica feeling the closeness of God and knowing that their Church stood with them.

To say that 2017 was a difficult year for immigrants would be an understatement. The travel ban, the rescinding of the DACA program, the changing deportation priorities, ending the TPS programs, and the troubling rhetoric that dominated immigration negotiations, all increased the anxiety among immigrants in the United States. Many of our immigrant brothers and sisters in our pews felt some consolation learning that bishops across the country lifted their voices to defend and protect them. But what made the protection of Mary’s mantle truly visible was the pastoral work undertaken at the local level.

In the Archdiocese of Washington, our first response to initial indications of distress in the immigrant community was combating fear with knowledge. Catholic Charities and its partners provided legal clinics in various parishes to teach people about their rights and to explore paths to normalizing their legal status. We also jumped into the V Encuentro process, which sent thousands of Catholics to reach out to our brothers and sisters on the peripheries. It was through these early interactions that we saw distress and anxiety overwhelming immigrant communities. Then, in September, young people became the target of the anti-immigrant sentiment. Yet, instead of taking a step back, young people stepped up and began to organize and galvanize support for their cause.

To express our closeness with young people, the Archdiocese of Washington hosted a retreat for young dreamers. Titled “Your Dream is God’s Dream,” the retreat provided young people with an opportunity to share their stories and to pray and support each other. It also demonstrated the Church’s desire to accompany them. Through tears and smiles, our young people realized that they are not alone. They felt the consolation that Mary offered Juan Diego: “Am I not here, who is your mother? Are you not under my protection?” But above all, they committed themselves to accompany each other and seek out those who have yet to experience the consolation of Christ.

Walking with the immigrant community is an experience of kinship. While we might not be able to solve all their problems, we can certainly love them unconditionally, the same way that God loves each one of us. By walking with them in the midst of uncertain times, we express our closeness to God who has a special predilection for those on the margins, and it is by walking with them that our brothers and sister can experience the closeness of God.

Javier Bustamante serves as Executive Director of the Office of Cultural Diversity and Outreach in the Archdiocese of Washington.

 Going Deeper

Visit the USCCB Justice for Immigrants website to connect with the Faces of Migration and take action to urge Congress to work for an immediate solution for Dreamers.

Drone Warfare and Targeted Killings: Moral and Ethical Questions

In 2011, a drone strike killed a 16-year-old American teen, Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, in Yemen. He died two weeks after his father, a militant cleric, was also killed by a drone in Yemen. They were the first two Americans to be killed by U.S. manned drones. While some administration officials said the death of the son was “a mistake,” it is clear more mistakes are being made. Weddings and funeral parties have been hit. In January 2014, two Western hostages held by al Qaeda in Pakistan were killed by a drone strike.

Despite policies that drone strikes would only be carried out if there is “near certainty of no collateral damage,” drones are used in “signature strikes” in which targets are not identified by name. Rather, all military-age males in a strike zone are considered combatants. In 2013, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) estimated that 4,700 civilians were killed by drones.

Drones are proliferating. Over 80 countries now have them and some non-state actors as well. While drones can be used for peaceful purposes (i.e. traffic/weather monitoring), they have been used increasingly in armed conflicts, including targeted killings. They cost less than putting troops on the ground and can be used in places where the U.S. cannot or would not want to put troops anyway.

It is because lethal drones are so easy and cheap to use that it’s tempting for policymakers to expand warfare into non-war zones. We’ve seen this in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya where U.S. forces are not actually engaged in declared military operations.

Using drones in targeted killings raises many moral and ethical questions in light of just war criteria and international law. Who are the targets? How are they selected? What about due process and rule of law? Is the use of drones creating such hostility that they serve as recruitment tools for extremists? Would we stand for drones being used against us?

The Holy See has urged discussion of the ethical implications of the use of armed drones in international forums. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi noted in 2014 at a meeting on the United Nations’ Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW):

“The ethical implications are not insignificant. The choice of indifference in relation to this question is counter-productive. … There is still time for the CCW (Certain Conventional Weapons) to become interested in drones before they become an additional source of greater destabilization when the international community needs more than ever stability, cooperation and peace.”

We are all invited to heed this call by learning more and then bringing our informed, Catholic perspective to this essential conversation on the moral and ethical questions around the use of drones in targeted killings.

Rev. Richard Killmer is Director for Education at the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare.

 

Going Deeper:

The Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare (INDW) has produced films and study guides on the history, use, and morality of drone warfare, and with collaboration from the USCCB Office of International Justice and Peace, resources on the Catholic perspective. Information is also available about upcoming regional conferences that include Catholic speakers, as well as possible remuneration from INDW for groups that show a film on this important topic. Get more info here.

How to Navigate Cultural Shifts in Your Parish

The faces of many of our parishes are changing.  The Catholic Church in the U.S. is the most ethnically diverse denomination in one of the most multicultural countries in the world.  New parishioners bring with them many gifts, insights and experiences. At the same time, changing demographics in a parish can leave others feeling overwhelmed and unequipped.  Maybe your own parish has experienced discomfort due to change.  There is hope and help!  The U.S. bishops have created a workshop and a practical guide called Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers (BICM).  This guide is broken up into five modules, the first of which is entitled, “Frame Issues of Diversity Theologically in Terms of the Church’s Identity and Mission to Evangelize.”

Growing Pains

For the past 10 years I have served in a parish whose face has been changing just like many across the country.  It’s a small parish in a small, rural town in western Kentucky that has seen enormous demographic changes over the last 20 years.  Hispanic immigrants have been moving in while the people who were raised there have been moving out and into the cities.  At our parish, St. Michael’s, about 75% of our 350 families are first and second generation Hispanic immigrants.  Of those Hispanic parishioners, the majority are from indigenous cultures with their own ancient languages and cultures.  As the introduction to BICM says, “Today’s urban and suburban parishes are becoming ‘shared’ or multicultural parishes.  They find themselves serving a daunting combination of nationalities, language groups, cultures, and races” (p. xiii).  Sometimes this shift comes with seemingly constant growing pains and cultural clashes.  I’m reminded of a recent situation during our Saturday vigil mass in English.  Our parish is always open and people pop in at all times of the day or night to pray, especially people from cultures where doing so is the norm.  When a woman and her three kids came in to pray right in the middle of Mass, kneeling in the corner by St. Michael with her candle, praying out loud in her native language, while the three kids climbed around and played behind her, some of those attending Mass felt distracted the confused.  Thankfully those participating in Mass were understanding, helped manage the kids, and Mass continued.

BICM Provides Guidance

As part of my efforts to help my own parish navigate these growing pains and cultural clashes, I attended a BICM workshop and found it extremely useful—even after so many years of being immersed in Hispanic cultures through family and ministry.  The workshop helped participants name the cultural dynamics we experience as well as see the natural stages and movements most parishes follow as we work to integrate new groups into the parish.  It was also helpful to be encouraged to use neutral terms.  For example, to speak of the prevailing culture instead of saying predominant, which expresses more power.  And then there’s the problem of what we call each group.  While recognizing there is diversity even in each group, we still need a respectful way to speak about each other.  We were always running into this in our parish—do we say Americans, Anglos, whites, English-speaking, non-Hispanics?  None of those seem to fit.  At BICM we were taught that the USCCB has decided to say: 1) European Americans, 2) Hispanic/Latinos, 3) African Americans, 4) Asian and Pacific Islanders, and 5) Native Americans.  Even just that small change has helped me in intercultural conversations and has given us a common language.

In the first module of BICM, we were reminded of the Church’s mission to evangelize not just individuals but also cultures.  The Church is called to represent the communion of the Trinity, “to mirror that communion of Divine Persons in the way it welcomes and gathers all peoples – ‘every tribe and tongue, people and nation’ (Rev 5:9)” (BICM, p. 4).  In order to be faithful to our mission, we need “intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable ministers of the Gospel to proclaim Christ’s message effectively among all nations” (BICM, p. 5).  These are necessary at all levels of ministry – from the leadership to the people in the pews.

Patti Gutiérrez has served in Hispanic Ministry for 13 years in the Diocese of Owensboro.  Her reflection was adapted with permission from Patti’s Catholic Corner.

Going Deeper
Visit the webpage of the USCCB Secretariat for Cultural Diversity for more information about intercultural competencies and other useful resources.

Prayers of Compassion and Hope for the DRC and South Sudan

This Friday, February 23, 2018, Pope Francis has asked us to pray and fast for peace in the world, and in particular, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.  We have good reason to do so.

The situations in the DRC and South Sudan are two of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.  In the DRC, 4.5 million Congolese have fled their homes to escape violence; 10.5 million people are threatened by this violence; 13.5 million people need urgent help; and 2 million children suffer from acute malnutrition.  In South Sudan, 1.9 million people have fled their homes while another 2.4 million took refuge in neighboring countries.  There are 5.1 million people in need of food assistance.

In this time of Lent, the Holy Father asks us to show compassion, and to support our brothers and sisters in these conflict-ridden countries through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

In the midst of these crises, the Catholic Church is a bright source of light and hope in both nations.  The Congolese Church provides emergency assistance, health care, and education to hundreds of thousands.  Since 2014, Congolese Church leaders have intervened in the political sphere to protect democracy and the common good, and to ensure that the government, which has been prone to corruption and negligence, respects the constitution and holds free and fair elections.

Church leaders have issued strong statements to condemn violations of human rights. They have organized marches for peace and to urge the government to respect the political agreement that the Church brokered between the government and opposition political parties to end the crisis.  The Church is also implementing a nationwide elections education program to help ensure that elections serve the needs of the people and not only those seeking power.  The Church is planning another march from the churches in Kinshasa, the capital, this Sunday, February 25, 2018.

In South Sudan, the Catholic Church works with other Christian denominations through the South Sudan Council of Churches.  Together they are engaging their government and the opposition leaders, who are behind much of the violence, to convince them to halt the fighting and restart negotiations to end the crisis.  Church leaders are also promoting meetings of local leaders to resolve local disputes before they become embroiled in the broader violent conflict.  Finally, the churches draw from Scripture to guide efforts to reconcile people who have suffered from past violent conflicts.  The churches hope to rebuild the social fabric of relationships as a long-term way to end violence.

In his message that announced the Day of Prayer and Fasting on Feb. 23, Pope Francis said, “Our heavenly Father always listens to his children who cry out to him in pain and anguish; ‘he heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds’ (Ps 147[146]:3). I launch a heartfelt appeal that we too may listen to this cry and each, according to his or her own conscience before God, can ask: ‘What can I do for peace?'” Here are some ideas for how you can respond to this challenge:

  1. Learn about the situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Read this statement from the USCCB President.
  2. Pray for peace using this Prayer for the Day of Prayer and Fasting for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the whole world or one of these prayers for peace.
  3. Share what you’ve learned with others. Spread the word on Facebook or Twitter. Invite your parish to use these Prayers of the Faithful for the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on February 23.  Gather your community for prayer for peace using the Scriptural Rosary for Justice and Peace, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, or Holy Hour for Peace. Give to Catholic Relief Services to support their peacebuilding work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and other countries.

Pope Francis asks us to lift up the courage of the Church and to nourish the hope that she brings to the Congolese and South Sudanese people who seek human dignity in peace and prosperity.

What a great way to enrich and fulfill your Lenten celebration!

Hilbert headshotSteve Hilbert is a policy advisor on Africa for the Office of International Justice and Peace at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Rediscovering My Neighbor

“But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”
– Luke 10:29

In May 2015, after graduating and finishing my internship with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) in Washington, DC, I moved to Elyria, Ohio, a small town 25 minutes from Cleveland. I got a job at a local health department and got married, then we adopted a puppy and consequently met more of our neighbors.  I felt satisfied and comfortable, but Jesus’ response to the young man’s question above surely wasn’t in the forefront of my mind.

Late in 2017, I received an email from the national CCHD office offering scholarships for former CCHD interns to attend the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) and afterwards, volunteer with their diocese’s CCHD efforts. I applied, and earlier this month I found myself at the CSMG in Washington, DC.

During the opening keynote, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo quoted Pope Francis: “Indifference is the greatest sin today.” He explained that despite globalization, which has made all of us more interconnected in some ways, we seem to care less about each other, as exemplified in the very negative rhetoric that often characterizes the debate around immigration. “Any action, even drinking a cup of coffee, affects someone else,” he explained.

During the long weekend, I learned about my neighbors around the world. I listened to a panel of speakers explain how their homes in the Amazon are threatened by environmental devastation and disregard for indigenous rights. In workshops, I learned how the Farm Bill provides not only SNAP (food stamps) but also international food assistance and development aid. In conversation during breaks I learned about the Lao Catholic Association of Columbus (OH) and efforts for economic empowerment in St. Louis. Through this gentle reopening, I rediscovered my neighbors throughout the world.

The experience woke me up from the indifference I had fallen into. I am now looking forward to several concrete ways to bring my experience home. Throughout the conference, I reflected on my response to one particular theme of Catholic social teaching: the call to family, community, and participation, and this theme provides the perfect framing for my next steps:

  • Family: One action that I already identified prior to attending the conference as part of my scholarship application was to work with my diocesan CCHD representative to help engage parishes in work to address poverty locally. Poverty is a major stress on family life, and helping parishes address poverty means strengthening families. Supporting my local NFP chapter is another important way of supporting family life.
  • Community: Working with CCHD will also help me continue to support and involve myself in local institutions. As part of my work, I’ll be helping share opportunities such as the Creating on the Margins contest and the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award, both of which are about encountering and acting in our communities.
  • Participation: I am returning from CSMG with a personal goal to participate more in my own city’s public life. I also signed up to receive alerts from Catholics Confront Global Poverty, which will notify me of how I can advocate for specific legislation to support human life and dignity by addressing poverty around the world. After all, if my representatives never hear from me, I have no right to expect them to do what I want.

Finally, I hope to respond to Bishop Eusebio Elizondo’s (and Pope Francis’) invitation to become part of a “globalization of charity.” With what I learned and the action I take, I will help begin reversing the “globalization of indifference” toward the “globalization of charity.”

andrea_fergusonAndrea Ferguson served as a Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) intern in 2014-2015 and now lives and works in Elyria, OH. She is grateful to now continue her work with CCHD as a volunteer with the Diocese of Cleveland.

The Good Samaritan Challenges Us to Pray

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) reminds us that prayer is an encounter with Christ, who is present in every member of our human family.

This is a story about people encountering one another on one of life’s roads. So many of us are tempted to pass by others without recognizing their needs, their common dignity. In this story, that’s not the case. The Samaritan, traveling down the road, was “moved with compassion at the sight.” This is the moment of encounter—a prayerful experience of seeing Christ in the face of the stranger.

We must be open to experiencing God in our encounter with others. In fact, this can be a powerful form of prayer. What if we aren’t encountering someone on a physical road? We can still encounter others in our prayer by calling to mind their stories, the faces of individuals on the news, etc.

How can we embody this call to encounter in our prayer this Lent? How can our Lenten prayer be both a moment of encounter and a “walking with” our fellow travelers on life’s roads?

Find this video, which features Prof. Helen Alvaré, JD, and all of CRS Rice Bowl’s Share the Journey tools for reflection.

CRS staff Eric Clayton

Eric Clayton works at Catholic Relief Services. He holds an MA in international media from American University and a BA in international studies and creative writing from Fairfield University. He currently lives in Baltimore with his wife, daughter, and pet hedgehog.

Migrants, Refugees, and an Invitation to Metanoia

Jesus Christ wants to change your life. Before you change your life, you have to change your mind.

A key concept for the life of Christian discipleship is metanoia.  Derived from the Greek word meta, for “beyond” and nous, for “thinking” or “mind,” metanoia means thinking beyond. Thus, the term metanoia was coined by early Christians as a way to describe how encounters with Christ necessitate thinking beyond what was previously thought. This term also highlights how the Holy Spirit urges a life of conversion.

If we are to follow and worship the crucified God-Man we must be open to heart and mind paradigm-shifts. The call to metanoia is made by our Lord in his Beatitudes.  For example: poverty is a blessing, meekness is strength, and persecution for righteousness is glory.

Bottom Line:  You can’t be a disciple of Jesus unless you are prepared and open to changing how you think about things. Most often, this thinking will be opposed to the thinking of the world.

Recently, the Office for Social Justice in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas was blessed to work with a great team of people to help Archbishop Naumann organize and celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with a special Mass and multicultural festival.  Catholics from the various immigrant and ethnic communities of the archdiocese came together in a liturgy that reflected the multi-national, universal identity of the Roman Catholic Church by utilizing different languages and musical styles. The Mass was followed by sharing a potluck meal and fellowship as families who had immigrated from Asia, Europe, Central and South America shared their food and culture with one another. People who weren’t accustomed to worshipping with each other came together to pray for all the migrants of the world.

It was a time for metanoia, to rethink how our Catholicity calls us to recognize that ultimately we are called to share a common home in Heaven. Pope Francis reminded us, in his message for that day,  “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Matthew 25:35-43).”  Each person is precious; persons are more important than things, and our institutions must be measured by how well they support the life and dignity of human beings, particularly when they are vulnerable, as in the case of child migrants.

As our government wrestles with its immigration and refugee policies, especially on the issue of DACA, let us as Christians be open to a metanoia on immigration that sees people not as enemies at the gate that we ardently resist, but persons of inherent worth that we desire to prudently welcome.

Bill Scholl is the Social Justice Consultant for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and Diocesan Director for their local Justice for Immigrants Campaign.

Going Deeper
Visit USCCB’s JusticeforImmigrants.org for materials and resources to encourage encounter, learning and action for and with immigrants and refugees.