Homily with focus on working together on issues , such as, immigration, for the common good of all people.
Last weekend my wife and I attended my diocese annual diaconate retreat over in Cape Girardeau. I would say “Finding Our Joy” was the overriding theme.
And speaking of joy, we had the Holy Father of Joy, the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, in the news all week long. He was on the television, all over the internet, in the newspaper. Some of the headlines I read included:
- A Progressive’s Pilgrimage
- Face of the church faithful In flux
- Pope, President to seek common ground
- Presidential candidates take cautious approach to Pope’s visit
When I reflect on today’s readings, I can’t help but think of how Pope Francis would respond to John and the disciples’ complaint to Jesus regarding an outsider performing good works of healing. I think that Pope Francis would mirror Jesus’s response.
“Do not prevent him….for whoever is not against us is for us.”
And Jesus further goes on to say something about sin
…”If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.”
Pope Francis is known to being quite frank, doesn’t worry about being politically correct.
No one should limit the action of God’s grace working among us.
This is why Jesus defends those who drive out evil even if they are not his actual disciples. Jesus warns us about arrogance, pride, jealousy, and our lack of recognizing the presence of God in others. Jesus is not threatened by the good works of outsiders. In fact, he embraces it.
So I ask, how do we react to life’s obstacles and oppositions when they challenge our core beliefs, our sense of justice?
Jesus challenges us to let go of our pride, our jealousies (essentially our deadly sins) and work together for His kingdom.
Likewise, Pope Francis seeks to bring awareness to the teachings of Jesus, and then call us to action, to live out the faith. How do we choose to respond to:
- Religious Freedom
- Sanctity of Life
- Importance of Family and traditional marriage
- The Environment, Climate Change
- Distribution of Wealth (St. James letter…your greed has caused your wealth to rot away)
- Immigration and refugees (pride, privilege, envy, jealousy)
Some people believe within these issues there are distinctions on what should be addressed by the Church and what should be left to governmental policy. I am pretty certain that Pope Francis thinks Jesus would challenge this approach.
Let me address one of these issues, Immigration Reform.
Many Catholics struggle with this issue. Pope Francis reminded us this week that when it comes to immigration, we need to follow the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It can’t be we-them attitude.
To help clarify the Church’s position I will quote per its positon from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop website (USCCB.org)
First Principle: People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families.
Catholic social teaching every person has an equal right to receive from the earth what is necessary for life—food, clothing, shelter.
Second Principle: A country has the right to regulate its borders and to control immigration.
In an ideal world, there would be no need for immigration control. The Church recognizes that this ideal world has not yet been achieved.
Third Principle: A country must regulate its borders with justice and mercy.
(Focuses on family) A country’s regulation of borders and control of immigration must be governed by concern for all people and by mercy and justice. A nation may not simply decide that it wants to provide for its own people and no others. A sincere commitment to the needs of all must prevail.
Moreover, immigration policy must take into account other important values such as the right of families to live together and not force married couples or children to live separated from their families.
It is the position of the Catholic Church that pastoral, educational, medical, and social services provided by the Church are never conditioned on legal status. All persons are invited to participate in our parishes, attend our schools, and receive other services offered by our institutions and programs.
The USCCB has stated six principles of immigration reform:
- Establish a path to citizenship, where undocumented immigrants can “complete and pass background checks, pay a fine and establish eligibility for resident status.”
- Create a future worker program to relieve illegal immigration that provides just wage conditions and protects the rights of existing American workers.
- Promote immigrants’ family unity.
- Ensure due process rights.
- Address the root causes of immigration, “such as underdevelopment and poverty in sending countries, and seek long-term solutions.”
- Enforce U.S. borders with “targeted, proportional and humane” measures.
We must not value what is less important over what is essential.
There is great value to our profession of faith, our sincere prayers, and our active participation in the Church. But these actions are empty if they do not lead us to do God’s work in the world.
Our actions toward serving the least among us…provide the authority for the faith we profess. When we do this, we become more faithful servants to Jesus.
And we do this …in the name of Jesus.
In this way we can better speak the truth when it is not convenient, ultimately being a disciple of action for a better world.
Finally, Pope Francis, on his flight to the U.S. from Cuba, was questioned by reporters about his progressive views when it came to the world economy and environmental. He told reporters that some people may have an inaccurate impression that he is “a little bit more left-leaning.”
“I am certain that I have never said anything beyond what is in the social doctrine of the church,” he said.
As for conservatives who question whether he is truly Catholic, he added jokingly, “If I have to recite the Creed, I’m ready.”
Most Catholics are on the same page as Pope Francis regarding the Church’s positons on the many issues that face our society. However, there may be some Church or “Pope” positions that cause us to pause and possibly give us heartburn. I know I have concerns on a few issues that I continue to pray about.
In the end, I think Pope Francis is trying to build bridges and find common ground. His message is to change people’s hearts and not be a politician.
I close with this perspective on living the Catholic creed in today’s world.
(The following was/is posted from Phatmass.com via Facebook)
- When I talk about greater justice for immigrants, I’m called a Democrat.
- When I speak up against abortion, I’m called a Republican.
- When I talked about racism and racial inequality, I’m called a Democrat.
- When I mentioned small localized government, I’m called a Republican.
- When I support the common good, and solidarity, I’m called a Democrat.
- When I say family should be strengthened, I’m called a Republican.
- When I speak up against the death penalty, I’m called a Democrat.
- When I refuse to fund contraception, I’m called a Republican.
In truth, I am a member of an institution that teaches that freedom is when a person no longer acts under the influence of someone else. An institution that encourages free will and free thought. An institution that doesn’t fit inside a man-made box.
I am neither right or left, I am Catholic.