From The Rev. Bob Woods,
St. Sherrian’s, Kernville
This Sunday, the Book of Wisdom reminds us that death is not from God, but is the result of Satan’s envy, which gave rise to his deceiving humanity. Death is not only bodily. It can involve one’s spirit, hopes, perseverance and steadfastness. Paul speaks to this in the passage from Corinthians, the reading challenging Corinthians to act in accord with their faith, ending with the wonderful reminder that, in a faithful society, no one has too much or too little, hence by implication everyone should have enough.
This should be true not only within a just and believing society, but in how just societies approach societies that are not just. The humanitarian issues on our southern border are obvious. Just as obvious, too much of the discussion is focusing on what is best for America and Americans and the supposed inherent character of those seeking to cross the border, too little on how those who have less should be treated, whether they will ultimately be allowed to enter America or not. This is not a statement about who should or should not be admitted to America, but it is a statement about how those seeking entry should be treated – and as Bishop Curry says, that isn’t political, it’s Biblical.
There is death in all this, spiritual, moral and emotional death. The fixation of many on this or that particular aspect of border and immigration issues can lead to detriments, intended or not, in other aspects of the problems. Failing to reflect with prayer and the guidance of Scripture, failing to consider, as St. Paul says, the meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice in this, can be toxic to the soul, damaging to our moral compass in Christ. And much of that tunnel vision, I am convinced, comes from assumptions that are made about various aspects of border issues and those seeking entry.
The danger of such assumptions – witting or not – is highlighted by the Gospel for Sunday. What follows is from one of my heroes, Abp. William Temple. He asked, “Why does everyone assume Jairus’ daughter was dead, when Jesus so clearly said she was merely sleeping?” I had never thought of that, and his question is brilliant. I always assumed the girl was dead, and that her quickening was a precursor to Jesus’ own resurrection. I failed to heed Jesus, and assumed the worst, taking the wailing and mourning of the neighbors as more dispositive of that question than the words of my Savior Jesus.
So it is along the border. We can assume this or that group, collectively, is accurately characterizing immigrants and those who variously care for and confine them, or we can attempt to be as objective as we can, using not only what we hear and see and our minds, but also our hearts and faith, to more clearly see what Jesus calls us to do, calls us to be, in this matter and in the world as a whole.