“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these…” – Mark, 12:30-32
About 2,300 years ago, a geometrician and logician named Euclid wrote one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics that still guides the study of this subject to the present day. One of his simplest yet most significant deductions became what we refer to today as the “Transitive Property”. The Property states: if a = b, and b=c, then a=c. Although I learned this theory a decade ago, I still remember it today. It is the easiest geometrical property to remember because it is logical. It makes sense. Many things in this world are complex, sometimes too complex for man to fully comprehend. Fortunately, we faithful can turn to God and the Church for answers to the greatest mysteries of the universe. In the same way that the Catholic faith provides the higher Truth, math and logic provide worldly truth – empirical facts. We can see, understand, and prove these concepts and theorems beyond dispute.
You may be asking, what do Euclid and early math have to do with the Church and loving your neighbor? The Euclidean relation should inform our view of immigration, an issue in the United States currently making many headlines. In defending its hardline stance on border security, the Trump Administration has tapped into the underlying fear of “the other” which has plagued the U.S. since its inception. This “other” could mean a person of a different ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or worldview. Today, that “other” comes across our southern border daily in the form of undocumented immigrants and refugees from across Latin America. We tend to look for scapegoats during periods of serious national duress, and today, many Americans point fingers at the immigrants seeking our help in the first place. These new people are different from many of us. They speak another language, hold different cultural values, and practice a faith only some of us share. Most work for less, yet also work industriously, in jobs not seen as “desirable.” We seem to understand these aspects of their lives.
We do not understand the level of gang violence, political turmoil, and poverty that causes thousands of our southern neighbors to leave their homes. Unless they try to find a better future here, they risk their lives at home. We do not understand that while the United States is plentiful in resources and abundant in opportunity, most of our neighbors do not want to come here. Who wants to leave the land of their birth? Who wants to give up the familiar – family, language, and/or culture? The people arriving at our borders come with nothing but the hope that they and their family will survive the next day unharmed and together. Now, with the Trump Administration’s hardline immigration policies, parents coming here do not even have the hope that they may ever see their children again. They do not know why they face prejudice and disdain in the U.S., and they oftentimes do not know anyone outside of immediate family here. They do not understand why a country where 13% of the population speaks Spanish and 24% of the population practices Roman Catholicism would be so opposed to their arrival. Although more than half of the U.S. Catholic Church is comprised of Latin Americans, members of our own community fall prey to anti-immigrant prejudice. In the United States, Latin Americans make up 52%-54% of the Catholic Church, as we learned in a recent discussion led by Bishop Mario Dorsonville. The other 46%-48% of the Church is white, and around 60% have historically and consistently been conservative (based on political affiliation and presidential election voting statistics). It follows then that 25% of the American Catholic Church tend to support more stringent immigration policies, such as the current “zero-tolerance policy” practised by the Trump Administration. But these statistics fail to appropriately characterize the very human issue we face. Immigrants are a people of God - made in his image and likeness. To love them is one of the two most important commandments, according to Jesus (Mark 12:31).
To be sure, there are many problems surrounding immigration. But the issue of undocumented immigration is above all about people, not “illegals” or “criminals” or “rapists”. Although many opinions are consistently voiced on this issue, we must recognize certain fundamentally Catholic teachings. In today’s polarized society, we frequently find ourselves in a divided Church. Unfortunately, the topic of immigration has not escaped the attempted moral
rationalization of un-Christian social policies. According to a recent Reuters poll, 28% of Americans support hard-line immigration policies such as the separation of families. But regardless of our political leanings, Christ tells us to know God and to love him fully, representing the other greatest commandment (Mark 12:29-31). In a similar way, our faith must tie us all together. We must recognize that the solution cannot involve the politicization of a human issue. A truly Christian solution does not include the separation of families, or the turning away of the needy or the neighbor. Jesus Christ and His Church call us to something loftier. We cannot let politics be a scapegoat for apathy or prejudice towards our neediest neighbors.
The answers Jesus gives to the Scribe (Mark 12:28-34) are black and white. They do not leave room for interpretation, nor was Jesus debated or questioned further. Each person proclaiming to be a faithful and practicing Catholic has a personal duty to Christ and his Church to love and revere God, and to love and embrace his or her neighbor. There is no question that each person on Earth, whether we consider them “good” or “bad”, was made in the likeness of God. So now we may return to that basic Euclidean theory established 2,300 years ago: if a = b, and b=c, then a=c. If we are to love the Lord, and if the Lord is found in all of us, then we must love our immigrant neighbors, too.
Core Team Evangelization Coordinator
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