As the situation at the Mexico-United States border is examined, people can rightfully be dismayed and shocked at what is being witnessed. Thousands upon thousands of people from Latin America are flooding the border, looking for a better life for themselves and for their families. These people are, by and large, good people seeking refuge from the poverty and corruption in their nations. These people have been, by and large, encouraged by the seeming change in U.S. policy.
In a perfect world, these migrants would be able to follow proper protocols and procedures. In a perfect world, these migrants would be able to formally request asylum and legal entry into our nation. But this is not a perfect world.
Because we live in a fallen world, many of those who are seeking refuge in the U.S. are being taken advantage of by nefarious people who request large amounts of money from these largely poor people to get them over the border. We have read about children being dropped from high walls to enter this country and the situation of overcrowding, chaos, and confusion at the border.
More than anything, the role of the church is to be present and to offer help, both spiritual and physical, to all involved. Most especially, the migrants.
The church has had a long history of supporting migrants, going back to the Old Testament. Recall that immigration comes up by necessity in the very first book of the Bible, Genesis (Gn 3:23), when our first parents, Adam and Eve, have to find a new home after their justly deserved and necessary expulsion. In Genesis 11, Abraham leaves his home in Ur and arrives in Canaan. This leaving of home out of necessity (in both these cases, famine) is also seen in the other Patriarchs, Isaac (Gn 12:10) and Jacob (Gn 26:1).
Recall in Matthew 2:13, we read about the Holy Family, Our Lord Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her most chaste spouse, Saint Joseph, fleeing from the tyranny and danger of the illegitimate king, Herod, traveling into what was traditionally for the Jews a place of very bad memories, Egypt. No one can deny the fact the Holy Family of Nazareth were refugees.
The church is also there to remind people of the history and the dignity of the migrant. In each case, these Old Testament immigrants are created by God in his image and likeness, just like all of us, and despite the effects of original sin, and actual personal sin in their lives, they never lose that God-given dignity.
They had faith in God and wanted to make a better life for their family and their people. Each of them wanted to preserve and maintain their own culture while, at the same time, interact with the cultural reality in which they found themselves living. They are not that much different than many of the immigrants whom we meet today in our parishes in our Diocese of Brooklyn. They are not that much different than many of our ancestors who came from Europe and many other lands many years ago.
Yes, the church has a clear role at the border — to be the Mother of Migrants, caring for them, spiritually, sacramentally, and even physically. She is there to remind all the world of the intrinsic dignity of the human being, that salvation history is determined by the migrant, that the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, our Lord, our God, our Savior Jesus Christ came as a migrant looking for help.
Let us call upon Our Lady, the Mother of Migrants, for the help and protection of each and every person.