Last week, I attended a Mass for immigrant families and reform of our destructive immigration system. Ahead of me was a young mother and her little boy. He was adorable – around 14-15 months, sandy brown hair. He was very good during the mass and you could see the love pouring out of both mother and son for each other. Mom wasn’t clingy but every so often she would give him a little hug, caress his cheek, kiss his forehead. My thoughts immediately went to the children at the border who, separated from their own mothers or fathers, have no one to touch them. I remembered the horrifying audio of the children crying out, “Mama…. Papa” and my heart broke a bit more.
Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, a holiday that celebrates freedom from tyranny… poverty… religious persecution. A time to celebrate life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s easy for me to say this because I’m white, educated, and employed. For many others in our country this is not the case. They are still persecuted, poor, and despised because of their religion. This isn’t the way most of us want our country to be. Our uncivil discourse doesn’t feel so great to me right now.
Tax breaks for the rich… bans at the border….separating children from their parents…. open carry gun laws are not going to make our country great again. Our country is great because individuals can experience the freedom to be who they were created to be….because we care about our environment and do all we can to reduce those practices that pollute it…. because we recognize that all religions have a bit of the truth about the loving, generous God….because we welcome those escaping hunger and violence in their own countries. We are great when we work for economic and political stability in other countries so that their citizens will not have to leave their families to survive. We are great when we recognize the needs of our citizens like healthcare, jobs, and excellent education.
No child should be denied the touch of her father, the kiss of his mother. No child should be traumatized by separation. To be great, we must remember Jesus’ warning, “What you do for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do to me.” Our brothers and sisters are black and brown, Christian and Muslim, native born and immigrant, rich and poor, straight and gay.
God our all nations, on this Fourth of July, be with those who live in this United States. Give us the wisdom to know your will and the courage to live it out. Help each of us to bring love and inclusion to our country. Amen.