January 30, 2017
At the Eucharist for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time this past weekend, we heard Jesus’ teaching of the Beatitudes, the preamble to his Sermon on the Mount which serves as the “constitution” for what it means to be a follower of Christ. The attitudes Jesus reflects in the Gospel of Matthew encourage us to see ourselves, one another, and our world through a lens of love and compassion. Like the remnant in last weekend’s first reading from the prophet Zephaniah, Jesus invites us to be “humble and lowly” and “take refuge in the name of God.”
Where—or in whom—do we take refuge? We can take refuge in ideas or ideology or labels or lifestyles. We can take refuge in political positions and platforms. We can take refuge in our words or our silence. The remnant found refuge in the name of God. Where do we find refuge?
Seeking refuge in God’s name makes us all refugees. We are all wanderers walking the sometimes fine but always unfinished line between the ways of the world and the ways that lead to wholeness and holiness. We are all sojourners in seeking shelter in sometimes stormy and terrifying times which is why Jesus advises his followers to experience an attitude adjustment that awakens in us a longing for the reign of God, the ultimate refuge for the remnant.
At last year’s Provincial Assembly, we took a Corporate Stance for Comprehensive Reform of the Immigration System. In our Corporate Statement, we made the following commitment:
As Missionaries and Companions of the Precious Blood – Kansas City Province, we are compelled by our charisms of reconciliation, hospitality and ministry of the Word for the renewal of the Church. We are motivated by the Gospel message (“For I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” Mt. 25:35) and inspired by our founder, St. Gaspar (“Please, I urge you not to abandon the poor who are the image of Jesus Christ”). We remember that we are a nation of immigrants. In light of these roots and our commitment to social justice, we affirm the rights of all immigrants to be treated with dignity and respect. We call on all government leaders to work together to establish compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform legislation. This legislation should:
- Provide a timely path to legal status for undocumented persons in the country
- Preserve family unity as a cornerstone for our national immigration system
- Provide for just and legal paths for immigrant laborers to come and work in the U.S.
- Restore due process protections to our immigration enforcement policies
- Address the root causes of migration within sending countries and explore long-term solutions
In the last week, President Trump has issued executive orders that are an affront to human dignity and respect for the rights of all immigrants. His executive orders to deny federal funding for jurisdictions that choose not to cooperate with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants, to construct a wall at the border between the United States and Mexico, and to “virtually shut down the refugee admissions program for 120 days…reduce the number of refugees to be admitted to the United States this year from 110,000 to 50,000 individuals, and indefinitely suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees” are callous and cruel. As Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the Committee on Migration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said over the weekend, “The United States has long provided leadership in resettling refugees. We believe in assisting all those who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion.”
Please contact President Trump, your senators and representatives to voice your concern about these executive orders that threaten, in the words of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, “to tear families apart and spark fear and panic in communities.” While we acknowledge and respect “the right of our federal government to control our borders and ensure security for all Americans,” we do not believe these executive orders are the way to achieve these goals. Indeed, they stand in sharp contrast to the Beatitudes and the way of compassion as lived by Jesus and as reflected in Catholic Social Teaching.
With peace in the Blood of Christ,
Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.
and the Leadership Team