By Frank Lesko, Coordinator of Justice and Peace
Abraham had his beloved son Isaac, whose arrival was a surprise and a blessing, given that his wife Sarah was previously thought to have been barren. Peter, James and John were so mesmerized by the transfiguration experience on the mountaintop with Jesus, they wanted to remain there—“let us make three tents,” Peter said.
Whenever we have a “peak” experience, or when we have what we want, it is natural to want to maintain it as possible—a wonderful retreat, a honeymoon, the ease of a life with material comforts that we built up just the way we like it. We want to stay in the known rather than risk the unknown.
Yet God continually calls us out of our earthly comforts toward heavenly ones. He challenged Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Jesus urges his disciplines to come off the mountain, back into the real world of struggle and toil. Still later in the Gospel narratives, God sacrifices his only son.
It is hard to venture forth in faith like that. Many immigrants today risk losing all they have in search of the Promised Land. Others in America find it difficult to embrace those who with their different culture seem to challenge their own rightful inheritance. Still, the Gospels call us to be a welcoming people.
“The very identity of the people of God is intertwined with the story of movement, risk and hospitality. Migration shapes the heart and soul of who we are as human beings before God,” say Gail Phares, parishioner and ministry leader of Witness for Peace Southeast. She continues: “The basic premise of a theology of migration is that God, in Jesus, so loved the world that he migrated into the far and distant country of our broken human existence and laid down his life on a cross so that we could be reconciled to him and migrate back to our homeland with God and enjoy renewed fellowship at all levels of our relationships.”
The US Bishops speak to this in Welcoming the Stranger: “As Catholics, we are called to take concrete measures to overcome the misunderstanding, ignorance, competition, and fear that stand in the way of genuinely welcoming the stranger in our midst and enjoying the communion that is our destiny as Children of God.” The last part is key: By holding on to what we have, we are not allowing ourselves to move forward into the better place that God has ready for us, if only we take that step.
The promise of God is that by giving up all that we have, by letting go of what we think is rightfully ours, we are rewarded with another, still better inheritance in abundance. Abraham was rewarded with the inheritance of an entire people through countless generations. The Apostles did not stay in their tents on a mountain but traveled the whole earth spreading the Good News. Jesus gave of his earthly life to seek his heavenly throne, so that all may have life and have it more abundantly. So too by welcoming immigrants, we have the opportunity to help build a better, more diverse America, as others have done before us.
To see what the descendants of Abraham are up to, check out the “Abraham Build” of our local St. Francis Builds effort with Habitat for Humanity of Wake County. Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith communities work together to build a home for a family in need.
Click the link to find out more or to sign up to be a part of this ministry.
A Prayer For Immigrant Justice:
Blessed are You, Lord God,
King of all creation.
Through Your goodness, we live in this land
that You have so richly blessed.
Help us always to recognize our
Blessings come from You
and remind us to share them
with others, especially those who come
to us today from other lands.
Help us to be generous, just, and welcoming,
as You have been and are generous to us.
prayer taken from:
For more information on the US Catholic Bishops efforts on behalf of immigrants, see http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/index.shtml
Contact Frank Lesko, Coordinator of Justice and Peace, for more information on the efforts on behalf of immigrants at this parish: firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 847-8205 x267.