From the Rector: The Least of These

Jesus replied, “Whenever you did it for the least of these, you did it to me.”
 
We are all aware that issues related to immigration to this country and the situation at our southern border have been thrust to the forefront in recent weeks. For persons of faith and anyone of good will, the images and reports of conditions at immigrant detention centers, especially for children, are deeply disturbing. Issues regarding immigration in this country are not new. Chinese immigrants faced opposition and persecution on the West Coast in the 19th century. Irish and European immigrants in the early 20th century faced similar treatment. In recent years, our national conversation about immigration policies have degenerated into partisan battles, name-calling, and—let’s face it—the tendency of many in our country to treat and talk about immigrants in terms that are less than human. The fear of the “other” stretches way back into our human history, beginning with the story of Cain and Abel. Remember when God confronts Cain for his treatment of his brother Abel? Cain responds to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the writings of the New Testament answer that question for Cain and for us. Yes, we are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers.
 
For Christians of any political persuasion, when faced with any ethical, moral, or social issue, the final authority is the founder of our faith: Jesus. As trite as it may seem, we have to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” How would Jesus instruct us to treat immigrants, to talk about them, and yes, to talk with one another about the issue? If you’re unsure about how to answer those questions, read the Gospels. Jesus seems to be pretty clear on how we treat the stranger and the vulnerable. Jesus often excoriated religious and political leaders because of their mistreatment of the vulnerable. And, yes, it was political because Jesus spoke to the political authorities and leaders of his day about the unfair and inhumane policies directed toward persons who, despite their social class or racial identity, were not treated with the respect due to persons created in the image of the Living God.
 
I am not naïve. The issues related to immigration are complex. Our political leaders have tried (or not) to address these issues, and yet here we are. As Christian citizens, we have a moral obligation to engage in the conversation, to call for the protection of the most vulnerable and challenge our political leaders when policies and actions fly in the face of Jesus’ teaching. We also have an obligation to pray for our leaders, regardless of political party, and the many government personnel on our borders who go about their jobs with compassion and integrity. We are to pray, too, for justice and mercy for all people—not just those who look and think like us.
 
This week the bishops of the Episcopal dioceses bordering Mexico released a joint statement. I commend it to you. You can find it here. Join me tomorrow night, too, for the prayer vigil at CWU. However you decide to respond and engage on this or any other human rights issue, remember that whatever you do in serving the “least of these” you are doing for Christ himself.
 
In Christ,
Fr. Steve+
 
 

Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps Friday, July 12, at 7:45 pm (CWU Sammamish)

Plateaupians for Peace are organizing participation with Lights for Liberty to hold a vigil protesting the inhumane conditions faced by refugees along our very own borders. If you would like to join a group from Good Samaritan going to this vigil, contact Fr. Steve.