Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 389

A new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt. He said to his subjects, "Look how numerous and powerful the people of the children of Israel are growing, more so than we ourselves! Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase; otherwise, in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us, and so leave our country."

Exodus is the story of refugee immigrants. No descendant of Abraham, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Mormon, can forget that God has given us a home along with our traditions and identity. We are the people he chose for his own; if we prosper it's because we were blessed when the world hated us.

Christians in particular cannot forget, "Out of Egypt I have called my son." The infant Jesus was a refugee, whisked out of Bethlehem in the dead of night to flee with Mary and Joseph from Herod's soldiers. There are many passages in the Old and New Testaments that remind us to welcome refugees; for instance:
You shall not deprive the resident alien or the orphan of justice, nor take the clothing of a widow as pledge. For, remember, you were slaves in Egypt, and the LORD, your God, redeemed you from there; that is why I command you to do this. When you reap the harvest in your field and overlook a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; let it be for the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the LORD, your God, may bless you in all your undertakings. When you knock down the fruit of your olive trees, you shall not go over the branches a second time; let what remains be for the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow. When you pick your grapes, you shall not go over the vineyard a second time; let what remains be for the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow. For remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt; that is why I command you to do this. (Deuteronomy 24:17-22)
Refugees and their descendants do not forget where they came from. Syrian, Kurd and Iraqi refugees fleeing to Europe want to return to their homelands. Most do not intend to stay in foreign, strange lands. When they ask for help it is first to help them survive the moment and then to return to a safe, stable home. They truly become displaced persons when they and their children forget their native land. 

The cruelest people are those who have forgotten their native lands. Many American have lost their memories of Northern Europe; they do not remember the religious violence that drove them out of their homelands. They call themselves "Americans" and feel entitled to taunt and jeer at the latest refugees to reach our country. They would build walls against Latin Americans; some even discriminate against the Americans native to the southwestern territories stolen from Mexico.

Our Catholic traditions teach us to remember our history, including the suffering of our ancestors, and to show both compassion and hospitality to refugees. Not to do so is to betray our own souls; not only do we lose our heritage, we take for granted the blessings God has given us. 

Wikipedia lists twenty-one places in the United States named "Providence." Their founders believed God would provide for them through the hardships of building a new home far from their native lands. Only those who have lost faith in Providence, who believe God no longer provides for this country would build a wall against Latin Americans fleeing the drug wars spawned by North America's addicts. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.