We can find a familiar word in Sunday’s gospel reading. The news and political debate of the last election made this word very popular on cable news and Twitter. A sizable group of immigrants, traveling north together. [Spanish]
Just like: Jesus’ parents, on the way home from Jerusalem, thought He was in the caravan.
Blessed Mother gave birth to Jesus in the city of… Is that a long way from Jerusalem? Hardly. Six miles. You’d think that would mean just a quick trip between them.
But what lies between Jerusalem and Bethlehem now? It wasn’t there when the Lord Jesus was born. If it had been, the wise men couldn’t have followed the star to the stable.
There’s a wall. A border wall.
Do I look like I’m making this up? The state of Israel built a wall between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. A wall that divides Israeli territory from Palestinian territory.
The Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem wrote about the wall one Christmas a few years ago, as the Israeli government was completing the construction. The Patriarch wrote:
In this Christmas feast, we pray for the towns, cities, and villages of the Holy Land, because they are isolated from each other. With pain and deep sadness, we observe civilians being blockaded by the erection of walls and barriers. These contribute to violence and humiliation, generating grudges and hatred, whereas what we need is mutual trust, friendly co-operation, and a quiet, serene life.
As we gaze at the manger, we realize: the very mysteries of Christmas make demands on us. Demands that turn politics in contemporary America into a seriously painful and difficult business, for a Christian.
On the one hand: baby Jesus, with His quiet cooing, loudly insists: you must be pro-life. The true hope of the world turns on reverence for life in the womb. Only dark despair could ever even try to justify killing an unborn child in an elective abortion.
Nowhere in any of the true sources of human wisdom can we find anything that establishes a “right” to destroy a child. The idea that a “right” to abortion can exist in an enlightened civilization—that is an absolute lie. As we gaze at the newborn Christ, we know we have a duty to call it a lie, and to stand up for the truth.
Like the Jerusalem Patriarch put is: “Mutual trust. Friendly co-operation. Serenity of life.” This does not include abortion. As long as abortions, occur, we do not have peace on earth.
But what else? The Holy Family migrated. As a Latino congressman pointed out in a congressional hearing ten days ago: If Egypt had built a wall at their border with Herod’s kingdom, baby Jesus would have died in the slaughter of the newborns.
Jesus never obtained citizenship papers in the Roman Empire. If He had, our Redemption would not have occurred. Christianity as we know it would not exist. The Romans did not crucify their citizens; they only crucified non-citizens. Our Savior died on the cross as an undocumented non-citizen.
A barrier wall at our border, to keep people out? Have we not read our Bibles? The prophets celebrate one ultimate reality: All people, all nations, streaming toward Jerusalem, from the four corners of the earth. Throw open the gates! They come from Ethiopia and Cush, from Phoenicia and Tarshish, from Chaldea and Persia!
Some people say: Father, you have fallen prey to the typically naïve false compassion of the liberal clergyman. The Scriptures are about spiritual things. But we need secure borders.
How about this? It is naïve, totally naïve, to imagine that a nation turned in on itself, paranoid of enemies and fearful of immigrants, can prosper. Nations do not prosper when whole classes of people live in the shadows, because the reigning authority denies them the rights of citizenship.
Let’s start 2019 by acknowledging that this supposedly Christian nation has fallen far away from the truly Christian path. We have for the most part stood silently by, while one-fifth of the people who should have been our friends and neighbors got killed in the womb.
And we have stood silently by, while a path to citizenship for our law-abiding, undocumented-immigrant neighbors got taken off the political negotiating table. Then the path to citizenship for immigrants who came as children got taken off the political negotiating table. Now federal government workers have at least one paycheck in jeopardy—all because of someone’s fantasy of an impractical and pointless border wall.
Everyone says, “Yes, it’s a mess, our government is a mess”–without admitting: We made this mess, we who have the right to vote. We live in a representative democracy. If our government is dysfunctional, it’s because we dysfunctionally elected the people who make it up.
May the caravan Lady, Mary of Nazareth, and the divine fruit of her womb, help us find a way to clean up this unholy mess.