Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Facebook Catechism on World Events

The internet brings us the world. It's a wonderful tool, but it also makes us culpable for our inaction when we know 1) what is right, 2) what is wrong and 3) chose to ignore it.

Yesterday, I saw this photo by Huthaifa Shqeirat illustrating the scale of the Syrian Refugee crisis via one photo of one camp.

Impulsively, I shared the photo, but the scope and scale of it, coupled with the now famous photo of the three year old boy drowned on the beach shore, haunted my thoughts.

What is a person to do in this great big world when there is so much need?  I knew myself to be somewhat ignorant so I started to do research.  I read. I tried to read more. Nothing was easy. In some cases, it disheartened me. I read the back sources.  After reading multiple sources I trusted to be honest, if not impartial, I found examining this crisis in detail is like examining an infected wound you caused yourself. It's ugly. It's a mess. It shouldn't be. It shouldn't exist.

It's small wonder part of me wanted to crawl back into a diversion.  Look! There's a Buzzfeed of photo bombs...but the story kept demanding I pay attention, which annoyed me. After all, what can I do?  Wringing hands and feeling guilty is useless, but what power do we have here, far away from where any meaningful aid or human contact can be rendered? 
Then I read today's readings.   
Now normally, I love the Beattitudes.  Who doesn't? LK 6:20-26
Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. 
For their ancestors treated the prophets 
in the same way.

But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
But woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”

Today, the Gospel punched me.

I sat there reading it, knowing I have never been poor as these are poor. I have never been hungry as these are hungry. I have never wept as these weep. I have never been hated or excluded or insulted as these have been, for Christ or even for my own faults.
We live in an country of untold wealth, comfort and freedom. As a nation, though not to a person, we do not know how to suffer slights, much less injustices. We tend to justify our actions and inactions, both subtle and gross, for ignoring glaring pain and grinding poverty because whatever it is, is too big, too far away, too complicated, too much beyond our power, too much too much beyond what we as individuals can possibly do.

It is why I love this pope.  Pope Francis' called for Parishes in Europe to each adopt one refugee family.   It is a very Blessed Mother Teresa way of living out the life of the sermon on the mount, the call to us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for those in need, take on some of these souls abandoned.  She began with one dying man.  Mary the Blessed Mother, began her life of pure ministry with one yes. The Pope is asking for the Churches in Europe to say "Yes."

But what if the United States were to respond to Pope Francis's coming to see us, by doing the same? I don't know how it could happen, but what a luminous city on a hill witness it would be to the world, about what our hearts aspire to be.

A classmate from college thoughtfully
 pointed out, "Processing of Syrians is lengthy, much longer for them than other refugee populations, due to bias and fear in America. (And parts of Europe). Processing includes security, health and other screenings. Religion is only part of the picture."  

What can we do?

1) Contact Your Bishop to see what your diocese can do. There's also a lengthy discussion on the USSCB page regarding Migration and Refugees.
2) Contact your Senator. to see what is being discussed and what can be done. 
3) You can also sign a petition to the White House asking it and the government to authorize the resettlement of 65,000 Syrian refugees.  (Two capacity filled games of Fenway Park) or Frederick City, Maryland's entire population if you want to wrap your head around the idea.   
4) Pray..  St. Alban is the patron saint of refugees.  St. Anthony for the world to find a solution and for these people to find a home where they can do more than survive.
5)  John Mark M Reynolds said in an excellent movie review of War Room,  "Here is a basic fact: Christianity is a religion of the Cross. We take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. Prayers are the work of the soul and all our prayers are answered, but some are answered “not yet” or with continued pain. God sits in the Heavens and governs the universe. He desires what is best for me . . . but also for every being in the cosmos. I cannot always have my way in the short term in a broken universe.

Prayer is not a short cut to my will, but it is a surrender to the Will of God. I have seen great miracles in my life: healing that cannot be explained, people set free of demonic oppression, and insights that can only have come from God. I have also seen people walk long hard roads, because other people around them are evil. To continually tell people that prayer solves everything is functionally a lie. Prayer does solve everything, but it does not keep us from needing to do what God has called us to do." 

He's right.  We can't just pray, check that box, read those links, make that call or sign that email and move on.  We must investigate further.  One day's worth of googling by one mommy blogger won't tell the whole story, nor should it be considered extensive.  I welcome corrections, additions, points of view and links to useful places that might help all of us collectively to do more than watch from the sidelines.  
We have on the internet, the equivalent of the strange couple we don't know, knocking at the world's door.  It is completely reasonable, rational and logical to shake our heads and shut the door, saying, "There is no room in the inn."
 Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple– truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:40-42).  

I thought about putting up pictures of the refugees, but I think the reality is, we know there are people displaced, owing to faith, owing to politics, owing to greed, owing to war. We know they exist.  That leaves us with the next part of the situation.  How will we respond? 

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