January 24, 2014 by eneubauer
As I awoke this morning at 4:15, I decided to take advantage of the silence within my normally rambunctious home to begin my morning devotional using the Liturgy of the Hours. With four kids, two under two, silence is an unusual setting. I had to take advantage.
The Office of Readings OT offering took me through the book of Deuteronomy 10:12 – 11:6, 26-28. There, three things jumped off the digital page that made me think about our general approach to immigration reform in the United States.
“These are the words that Moses spoke beyond Jordan to the whole of Israel:”
“‘Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you? Only this: to fear the Lord your God, to follow all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and laws of the Lord that for your good I lay down for you today…'”
“‘It is he who sees justice done for the orphan and the widow, who loves the stranger and gives him food and clothing. Love the stranger then, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt…'”
If Moses is a trusted figure within Biblical history that we should pay attention to and the exhortation to “follow God in all His ways” is a principle we should strive to follow then what follows is quite important.
What follows is God’s view and vision on justice. Within the context of His view of justice we are all called to, “love the stranger.” Now that being said He goes on to state the importance for all of us to recognize a very important concept. At one point in our history all of us (you, me, our neighbors & friends) were strangers in the land which we now call home. It is precisely because of this reality that we are called to love those who, like us or our ancestors, immigrated to this land in order to find opportunity, rest and a new place to call home.
For me this is not rocket science. My great grandfather immigrated to the United States from Germany and I am glad that he was able to call this country home. He was not caught up in a complicated and antiquated immigration system nor did he find the United States an unwelcoming community of people. What he found were people just like himself. People who spoke German, were struggling to learn English and trying to find work so they could support what would become their families.
In addition, I am sensitive to the immigration system precisely because I have seen how difficult and exclusionary our current system is. Students from afar, dreaming of studying in the United States, have to wait in lines for hours, days and even weeks to get the “proper” papers and permissions to get into this country and are not always treated well in the process. The immigration process itself is antiquated and is in desperate need of reform. It is not just about boarder security. It is about the need for our country to recognize the serious flaws in our current system and our need to remain welcoming and open – a beacon of light and opportunity for so many who struggle in places where opportunity constantly alludes them.
Finally, I want to remind all of us in this politically polarized country to place yourself in the shoes of the individual or family desperately trying to come to this country. God, through Sacred Scripture, is communicating some very important principles to us:
- God asks His children to follow Him in His ways.
- God specifically takes interest in the orphan, widow & stranger (immigrant).
- God asks His children to take special concern for the stranger – remembering that we were all strangers somewhere along the way (Love God + Neighbor).
It’s time that we take a step away from the political infighting and simply do what is right. Fix what is broken and create a immigration system that is welcoming and designed to meet the immigration needs of the 21st Century.
Think, Pray, Act.
Category: Devotional, Pilgrims Path
| Tags: Bible, Catholic Social Teaching, Commandments, Deuteronomy, Disciple, God, Great Commandments, Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, immigration, Immigration Policy, Jesus, Love, Orphan, Politics, Reform, Sacred Scripture, Stranger, Widow
Exactly. I agree wholeheartedly!! God Bless.
Thanks for the encouragement. This is the beginning of a conversation on the principles that should guide the faithful when thinking through their position on a very important subject.
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How about Moabites and Ammonites? (Hint: Deuteronomy 23:3) Is the stranger supposed to be able to inherit the land?
Trying to extrapolate from what God told the Israelites through Moses to what American Christians are supposed to do is not a job for amateurs.
Understanding scripture is a both / and proposition. Therefore, I am able to properly interpret the story in Deuteronomy in both a historic context (very specific to the situation) while also having the ability to take the principles learned and apply them to current contexts.
Therefore, one can use this example to state that God cares for the “stranger” and expects us to do the same – remembering that we were all once strangers (ancestors).
Before you can grapple with a political solution on Immigration one has to understand guiding principles. They are located in both the OT, NT and imbedded throughout Catholic Social Teaching.
Guiding Principles – this was my goal.