The Immigration Issue: How to Discern Amidst Controversy

by Controversial Subjects, Gospels

How do we approach controversial political issues from a Catholic perspective, especially ones as charged as immigration?

Discerning what we’re called to do as faithful Catholics is not always easy, and the Church is called to inform consciences but not replace them. Fortunately, in Catholic tradition, there are time-tested and highly sophisticated frameworks for considering difficult circumstances of a complex world, always with a mind to the well-being of the human person. Today’s gospel reflection can help.

Father Ian VanHeusen presents a spiritual exercise on Exodus 22 dealing with the treatment of foreigners, and Matthew 22 in which Jesus articulates to the Pharisees the two greatest commandments (to love God and to love neighbor).

We invite you to watch Father’s video, then prayerfully read the Gospel and reflection. We pray that this might help you in your apostolate, your family, your classroom, or personally… to prepare for and more deeply experience Sunday’s Mass, and to better integrate the Sacrament and the readings into your daily life.

Four points for considering immigration as Catholics:

1. We must care for the outsider while guarding against harboring an “in-group” mentality.

2. Ground everything in the love of Jesus Christ.

3. Remember that love does not mean everything and anything goes. Love is grounded in Justice.

4. The Church presents two teachings to maintain in balance to form prudence (in the individual and in the political sphere):

a. Governments have the right to protect their borders and regulate immigration, including exclusion.

b. They must also balance the human right of those fleeing extreme violence and poverty, the right of the human to migrate.

A reading from the Book of Exodus (22:20-26)

Thus says the LORD: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.

“If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”

The Word of the Lord

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (22:34-40)

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Spiritual Exercise

1. Ask yourself whether you have spiritual freedom. Is what you’re consuming via the media making you angry? Are you being manipulated into agitation and away from peace? Authentic discernment takes place in spiritual freedom when we’re not being ruled by strong emotions that hijack our reason.

2. Take to prayer the current issues, especially immigration – but any that might be causing you distress or anger in the political sphere. Ask God to give you discernment of justice and love, and to help you disentangle from any propaganda that may have hold of your reasoning.

3. Meditate on the cultivation of spiritual freedom. Do you need to spend less time watching the news or reading political commentary online? Can you spend more time in silence with the Lord?

Photo credit: Adrien Taylor / unsplash

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