Last week there was a Facebook Live press conference at Annunciation House in El Paso. Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House, was joined by two women and their children seeking asylum and one citizen immigrant. Each explained that they wanted to be in the U.S. because it was where they could live in peace and provide a good livelihood for their families.
Throughout the press conference, people sent emojis or made comments about how they felt about the people speaking. There were many who felt compassion but there were also a lot of negative comments. Some of them were downright mean. I felt a great sadness in my heart for these attitudes. What is it that causes this hate? Are they afraid of losing their own freedom and liberties?
I heard recently that it is human nature to want to limit freedom to our own group whether that group is our race, our religion, or maybe, our country. This is a scarcity mentality in which I want to be free and enjoy the benefits of that freedom but I don’t want to share it with others. As Christians, aren’t we called to transcend our human nature and be more like Christ? The Scriptures are filled with Jesus coming in contact with people outside his comfort zone – women, demons, Samaritans, prostitutes, Romans, Pharisees. Jesus didn’t think freedom – the kingdom of God – was limited to just his group. He wasn’t afraid to share the liberating and beneficent power of God.
On February 13th, in his daily meditation, Fr. Richard Rohr commented “In fact, that is my only definition of a true Christian. A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else.” Maybe we can’t see Christ in immigrants or asylum seekers because we’ve never met one and we hear so many bad things about them. I must admit that spending time on the border gave me a very different perspective on what these brave folks are experiencing. Knowing someone who is different – color, religion, class, nationality – can provide us with a new understanding and acceptance of them.
Perhaps we should take some advice from Wisdom 11:24: “You (God) love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for you would not fashion what you hate.” Let us put aside our hateful, fearful, and limiting attitudes and see Christ in everyone.