Thursday, April 5, 2018

Do you ever read your Bible, Donald? A Brief Overview of How Both Testaments Favor Immigration and Condemn Racism and the Right-wing.

Do you ever read your Bible, Donald? Just a little overview of how the Bible favors immigration and condemns racism and the right-wing. The Bible is about love and understadning--not about hatred and persecution.

Let's start with when Jesus addresses the Samaritan woman and asks her for a cup of water. Back in those days, that was against the law. Jewish men were not allowed to drink from any cup that had been handled by a woman from Samaria. She was the first one to be surprised, astonished, bewildered, In asking her for water from a cup that necessarily she'd have held in her hands, Jesus was breaking the law--with a very clear, unquestionable, irrefutable message. He was condemning discrimination, racism, segregation, and inequality.

"The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew. How is it that you ask me, a Samaritan, for something to drink?' -- Jews, of course, do not associate with Samaritans." John 4:9
That's not the only time when Jesus breaks a law for the sake of humans who were suffering--from illness as well as from injustice. I will transcribe the passage of Jesus healing a disabled woman on the Sabbath:
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” Luke 13:10-16

It was also on a Sabbath when Jesus healed a man with dropsy. Luke 14:1-4

Yes, Jesus broke the law again as He again cured a sick human being on the Sabbath.

Therefore, when in today's society many people tend to give priority to rules and policies even when to the detriment of another person's well=being. Well, the Bible is clear. They are doing exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught us to do. Please read carefully:
Matthew 15:1-3
1 Then Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem came to Jesus and said,
2 'Why do your disciples break away from the tradition of the elders? They eat without washing their hands.'
3 He answered, 'And why do you break away from the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?'
Even from before Jesus' time, in the Old Testament we can read that God's love is much more understanding and lenient than most people would even suspect. There we can already read that "One does not condemn the hungry thief who steals to fill his stomach;
' Proverbs 6:30.

So, if God in His love even justifies the taking of a small piece of property when desperately needed for survival, can anyone allege that He condemns those who put their own lives in danger by crossing a border and entering a country without inspection as their only way to save their lives from torture and much worse forms of death, or in order to avoid starvation and give a much more promising future to their young?

The immigrants are not the problem. The big problem is posed by those who due to their right-wing fanaticism and out of hatred are irrationally against immigrants--mainly against those immigrants whose skin tone is not light white. It appears to be a good idea to give those people a reminder that Jesus Himself identified with the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the immigrant--even the naked and with those behind bars:
"For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: [Matthew 25:35] [Latin]
[36] Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. [37] Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? [38] And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? [39] Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? [40] And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. " Matthew 25:35-40

Those who reach out to their fellow human beings in need, danger, or distress are the ones who are doing Jesus' work in this world. Perhaps some people might also need a wake-up call about what Jesus says concerning those who ignore, despise, or are simply insensitive to the suffering of their fellow human beings. Do I need to spell it out? They might want to keep on reading the Gospel and get to Matthew 25:41-46.

Jesus' advocacy for equality for all with no distinctions is very clear: "There is no room for distinction between Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, foreigner, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.
" Colossians 3:11

In His public ministry, Jesus sternly condemned any discrimination against the immigrant, the foreigner, or anyone belonging to a human group that others might dare look down on. It is worldwide known how, by means of His Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus selected a fictional man from a small, belittled, discriminated against, oppressed population to become the universal example of charitable, compassionate behavior. Luke 10:25-37

All those who dislike immigrants, all those who cannot free their own hearts from the invisible yet immobilizing chains of hatred, all those who judge others not by how they act but by how they look and where they come from, please come close and listen to the message so that you can free your souls once and for all, so that you can heal yourselves from the cancer of racist and xenophobic hatred that is eating you up. Please read the Parable of the Good Samaritan and think deeply about it. Jesus is very clear. Crystal clear. Water clear. Those who were deemed to be pillars of their community didn't care. Those who held a respectable position in society were not moved to compassion by the plight of an injured fellow human being. Those who were supposed to be the ones helping others just looked at the other side. Instead, a man who was faced with discrimination and scorn from others was the one who cared, the one who was capable of greatness, the one who showed true nobility of heart. Moreover, why did Jesus come up with that Parable? Who was testing Him? A lawyer, someone who also had a prominent position in the society of his time. Nowadays, there are jokes going around how many attorneys there are. Too many--and I can say so as I am one of them. In those days, though, being a lawyer meant having a prominent position in the community. So, that lawyer was trying to be 'clever' in the bad sense of the word. He was trying to test Jesus. He asked Jesus who one's neighbor was. And Jesus gave that lawyer an answer he didn't expect. Our neighbor could be someone whom many look down on. Our neighbor could be someone facing racism day after day. Our neighbor could be someone who looked different from us. Our neighbor could be any member of humankind. Our neighbor could be someone from far away.

Jesus was equally eloquent in His defense of the foreigner and the immigrant when He shows that, out of ten lepers whom He had healed, only one shows gratitude--and that one is a foreigner, a Samaritan. Luke 17:11-19. Jesus keeps on saying it over and over and over again, loud and clear: Stop discriminating against those from Samaria!!! Now, why don't we put it in current-day terms? Jesus is saying as repeatedly and equally clearly today as He said it then--and now He says: Stop discriminating against those from so-called "sh-hole countries"!!! Stop discriminating against D.A.C.A. recipients!!! Against discriminating against those whose skin looks tanner than yours!!! They are the ones I love. They are the ones Who deserve me. They are the ones who will inherit My Kingdom. Jesus stands up for those suffering oppression and exploitation. He condemns the oppressors and exploiters. Jesus stands up for the persecuted. He condemns the persecutors. Jesus stands up for those being discriminated against. He condemns those spreading discrimination. Jesus stands up for those being bullied. He condemns the bullies.

We can see that countless times and in both the Old and New Testaments:
"If you share your food with the hungry
 and give relief to the oppressed,
 then your light will rise in the dark,
 your night will be like noon.
" Isaiah 58:10
"He gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.
" Psalms 146:7
"Then he sat down, called the Twelve and said to them, “If someone wants to be first, let him be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35
"(. . .) and anyone who wants to be first must be slave to all." Mark 10:44
"But he gives more grace; therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."James 4:6

It is pristine clear that Jesus condemns both economic and political oppression. He condemns social injustice and abuse of power.

There cannot be any stronger, more eloquent, more passionately vibrant condemnation of social injustice than the well-known passage in James 5:1-4 about the rich landowners who withhold the wages owed to those who work their fields:
1 Well now, you rich! Lament, weep for the miseries that are coming to you.
2 Your wealth is rotting, your clothes are all moth-eaten.
3 All your gold and your silver are corroding away, and the same corrosion will be a witness against you and eat into your body. It is like a fire which you have stored up for the final days.
4 Can you hear crying out against you the wages which you kept back from the labourers mowing your fields? The cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord Sabaoth.

A reading of the Beatitudes is very eloquent in that Jesus praises those who are kind, compassionate, considerate to others, those who are peacemakers, those who suffer persecution, those who shed tears.
Matthew 5:1-12 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
The Beatitudes
5 When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

In 2Maccabees 7:1-42 we can read about the horrendous martyrdom endured by a mother and her seven sons in the hands of a brutal king who wanted to make them eat pork in violation of the Jewish laws. Although hard to read due to the extreme cruelty of the torture those seven young men and their mother were put through, Chapter 7 of 2Maccabees is a very stern condemnation of any temporal power that goes against God's will. It is the condemnation of the Third Reich that thousands of years later would similarly torture and murder anyone of Semitic descent, anyone facing physical challenges, and anyone trying to shelter and hide any of those that the nazis wanted to get rid of.
The first Christians who were thrown to the lions are also perfect examples of how atrocious and despicable political power can be. Jesus Himself was nailed to the Cross by those having temporal authority those days. His life on this soil and excruciatingly painful death are an eloquent testimony of how awfully brutal some governments can be.

The concept of civil disobedience is as old as there are brave humans ready to die in the hands of brutal governments. And it was brought to the political arena not by politicians but by missionary Jesuit priests decrying oppression.

Throughout history, the inspiring lives of countless Catholic martyrs say it all. They were canonized precisely because of having reached out to and spoken out for the poor and the oppressed against tyrannic regimes. They were canonized precisely because of having opposed governments that were cruel to the people against the will of God. Examples are endless but will mention only three. St. Lawrence was burnt alive for defying the emperor and stating real gold and silver of the Church were those whom the Church loved the most: the poor, the sick, the disabled. He did use the three days he had been given to gather gold and silver--but instead of surrendering those worldly treasures to the emperor, he'd give them away to those in need in his community. Because of Deacon Lawrence's indomitable defiance of the temporal authority, the emperor deemed that death by decapitation wouldn't be painful enough for him. Instead, he was burnt alive on a grill--and as his body was slowly roasting, he'd keep firm on his defiance of the political power to the point of even joking about the horrifying death he was enduring.

As already said, amidst numberless examples, I'll limit myself to only three. Before voluntarily asking to trade his own life so as to save the life of a Jewish man who had children, Fr. Kolbe was already in Auschwitz because of having defended the Jewish and spoken out against the nazi regime. During his last week on this earth, St. Maximilian Kolbe offered his torture and pain for the Holocaust to come to an end.

Soon a new saint will be formally canonized. Blessed Luis Romero was an Archbishop in El Salvador who bravely spoke against the military dictatorship that was ruling his country and oppressing his people. Once again, I could come up with thousands of examples of Catholic martyrs all over the world. Yet, I don't think that anyone would be willing to read such an awfully long comment. Of course not every government comes from God. Bad governments are servants of the devil.

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