Immigration – A New Testament Perspective

Clearly, the Catholic Church in the world and in the United States has always been on the side of the immigrant and the migrant. This is true historically and true pastorally. In the past two weeks, we have had the opportunity to examine the true theological roots of the Church’s stance on immigration, which is based in a Catholic theological anthropology, namely the dignity of the human being, created fundamentally good in the image and likeness of Almighty God.

Last week, we looked at what Divine Revelation, as expressed in the Old Testament, had to say about migration and immigration. This week, we turn to the New Testament, primarily the Holy Gospels according to Saint Matthew and Saint Luke, to see how immigration is perceived.

In Matthew 2:13, we read about the Holy Family, Our Lord Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her most chaste spouse, St. Joseph, fleeing from the tyranny and danger that was the illegitimate king, Herod, travelling into what was traditionally for the Jews a place of very bad memories, Egypt. No one can deny the fact that the Holy Family of Nazareth were refugees.

Although this is the only section of the Gospels where the issue of refugees and migrants are explicitly brought forward, one does not have to look very far to see Christ’s call to love one’s neighbors, as succinctly phrased: “Love God above all else, with all your heart, mind, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt. 22:37).

Saint Luke’s parable of the Good Samaritan, a man who is not of the same country or even the same practice of religion as the Jews, drives home the idea that goodness and mercy can even come from foreigners. And clearly, the Lord’s Beatitudes and woes in Matthew 25, praising the welcoming of the stranger and condemning those who do not do so as not doing so to him, is worth noting.

Yes, one can see the theological and scriptural roots for the Church’s stance on immigration, one which is clearly based in the fonts of Divine Revelation, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Next week, we will continue with this topic by exploring the Church’s rich history, most especially in the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S.A.

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