Which one of you, wishing to construct at tower, does not sit down and calculate the cost? (Luke 14:28)
Building anything requires deliberation, reflection, informed decision-making. We don’t need the Lord to tell us that; common sense tells us. But it helps when higher authority spells things out.
Now, I do not claim to know much about politics. I do know that politics involves the art of building up the nation. And I also know that when the American Bishops instruct us priests to preach on a certain political topic on a given Sunday, I had better try to do it.
In a republican democracy like ours, politics begins with our reflecting on a question like this: What kind of country do we want to live in?
We know we want a country that respects the gift of life. We want to live in a country where babies don’t get killed in the womb. We want a country where no one’s life gets snuffed-out arbitrarily. Where people get treated fairly under law.
[You may recall that we already discussed the topic which we are under orders to consider. I gave a little sermon on this subject on the Sunday before Independence Day.]
We want to have the kind of country that other people want to come to—a free and decent and honest country, a nation of humane laws and wholesome customs. And when people come here, we want to welcome them. We want to open our communities up to them. A community that can welcome new people is a strong community. A community obsessed with border-fences is not.
People sometimes ask me, ‘Why does the Church care so much about the innocent and defenseless unborn?’ I could give a lot of answers, but a good one might be: ‘Well, God Himself lived as an innocent and defenseless unborn child once. Where would we be if His life had not been respected? Where would the human race be if the innocent and defenseless baby Jesus had not been loved and welcomed?’
If someone asked me, ‘Why does the Church care so much about immigants?’ I could give a similar answer.
The Lord Himself migrated with the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph—first southwest to Egypt, then north to Galilee. In Galilee, both Mary and Joseph found themselves far away from their own ancestral homeland of Judah. Truth to tell, the whole People of God migrated. In fact, they received the Old Covenant while migrating from Egypt to the Promised Land. And the Church has always migrated—from one country to another, yes. But even more so: from here on earth to the final goal. During this pilgrim life, all of us Christians are migrating to our true homeland in heaven. Without the hope of migrating to heaven, where would we be?
So when we see migrants, we do not see ‘ferners;’ we do not see strangers. We see ourselves; we see brothers and sisters. When we see migrants, we do not ask, ‘What in the name of God are those people doing here?’ To the contrary, we each ask ourselves, ‘What in the name of God am I doing to help these fellow travelers of mine?’
Especially when these fellow travelers share our Catholic faith. When they love the Lord Jesus, like we do, and the Blessed Virgin. And respect God’s commandments and belong to His holy Church, governed by the successor of St. Peter—like we do.
So: Every law-abiding resident of our country should have a reasonable way of becoming a citizen. We do not want a permanent underclass—people living here with no legal rights, because they have no way of becoming citizens. We do not want families to get separated from each other because mothers or fathers get deported. We don’t want any of our brothers or sisters treated with anything less than the same due process of law that we would all hope for.
The quick-and-easy phrase for all this is: ‘comprehensive immigration reform.’ The immigration laws of the United States have been reformed at various points in history, when we have reflected together on how to keep this tower of ours well-built, the tower called America. This seems like the time to reform the immigration laws again.
The US Senate passed a bill that our Bishops welcomed. We are urging our members of the House of Representatives to seek a similar solution, so that the reform can become law. In the bulletin, you will find a flyer with practical suggestions for how to contact our congressman.
As for ourselves, our future together as a cluster of two august parishes involves: transplants from northern states, native Virginians, transplants from Mexico, transplants from Vietnam, transplants from Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky, Ohio, and God only knows where else. All of us migrants on earth belong here. We are all Catholics. If we don’t know each other’s languages, at least we can communicate by kneeling down on the same kneelers and believing in the same incarnate God together.
And we can love each other. We can build a holy tower of brotherly love together. And a loving thing to do would be: for all registered voters to contact their US Representative and let him know that we want a legal path to citizenship for our friends.