|Mexico's Lady of Guadalupe|
Recently a lady wrote to a Catholic diocesan newspaper encouraging the readers to heed Mr. Trump's immigration policies: I'll build a wall which Mexico will pay for, and we'll charge Mexico ten-thousand dollars for each illegal immigrant they send our way.
I emailed a response but the newspaper didn't print my letter, so I thought I'd put it up here. In this country everything is fair game, you can put forward just about any idea, question or proposal so long as it doesn't threaten or menace. So the questions surrounding Mr. Trump's immigration plans are legitimate, but he's a businessman and I'm a Catholic priest. Here's my letter:
Dear Editor: I have a few thoughts to share responding to Ms Salerno's August 1st letter encouraging a greater attentiveness to Donald Trump's immigration proposals. Ms Salerno writes: "It is so refreshing to have someone stand up and tell it like it is."
Well of course we feel this way when the person's "telling it like it is" resonates with my own beliefs. "My sentiments exactly" we say. And then she tells us that Mr. Trump "...is saying what the ordinary citizen is saying and thinking." We must be very careful - truth be told, Mr. Trump is saying what some ordinary citizens are saying and thinking. Not everyone.
Such energy and time we're investing in the question of illegal immigration (which of course, let us speak plainly, means Mexican and Central Americans, not Canadians or any other nationality). "Are you legal?" might well be a question, but it isn't a Jesus question. In Matthew 25: 31-46 Jesus has told us what the questions are: "Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Do you need a place to stay? Do you need clothes? Are you sick? Would you like someone to visit you in prison?"The Ronald Knox translation of the New Testament doesn't read, "When I was a stranger you welcomed me," instead it says, "When I was as stranger, you took me home." Yikes!
Instead of "Are you legal?" we might ask: "Mexican mom, do your children need school clothes and shoes? Tell me their sizes." "Guatemalan mom, are your children going to school having had a good breakfast? Can I help?" "Mexican dad, I know someone who has digging to do in his yard and no one else is interested in the job, are you?"
I was a pastor on Long Island where seemingly every lawn is maintained by Mexican and Salvadoran men. I became friendly with this team of fellows who cut the grass, and when in early November they were still on the job, I asked them if they knew Our Lady of Guadalupe and would they like to come to the big fiesta we were having on her December 12th feast day? "You're far away from home, would you like to join us for prayers, food, singing and dancing?"
Instant family! Jesus gives us the questions in Matthew 25.