Father Francisco delivered the homily for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time at the 9:30 A.M. Mass on the first reading where it says, “וְגֵר לֹא-תוֹנֶה, וְלֹא תִלְחָצֶנּוּ: כִּי-גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם, בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.” “The traveler in your land you will not treat overbearingly and you will not press upon him. You were strangers in the land of oppression.”
In relation to this, Father Francisco discussed the immigration issue, in particular as it relates to the Arizona Immigration law and other laws coming into place in the Deep South and elsewhere. Father Francisco alluded to the fact that almost all Americans, excluding Washoe, Paiute, and the other so-called Native American tribes, are all immigrants to this land. We have on our Lady in the Harbor in New York City, “Give me your tired, your poor, those yearning to breathe free.”
Father called to mind that our Eucharist comes ultimately from the words of Deuteronomy 5:1-6:
“Moses called all those who quarrel with God, and told them: Hear, You Who Quarrel with God, the customs and correct judicial precedents, which I speak in your ears this day, that you may learn them, and guard to do them. The Personal Name our Mighty Judge cut a Social Contract with us in Horeb. Not with our Fathers did he cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, standing here, alive, this day…” Remember, “I am the Personal Name your Mighty Judge, who brought thee out of the land of Oppression, out of the house of bondage. Thou will have no other gods before my face.”
Jewish Passover celebration looks at that part of the text which says, “Not to our fathers did he cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, standing here, alive, this day.” Passover Seder is the reliving of this event for the first time, each time they celebrate their escape from Oppression. Eucharist is the celebration of Jesus’ Last Supper, a celebration of Passover Seder. In the Eucharist, we relive for the first time, each time, Jesus Passion and resurrection.
The text continues, “You will remember that you were a servant in the land of Oppression, and the Personal Name your Mighty Judge brought you out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; the Personal Name your Mighty Judge commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.”
Father Francisco pointed out that repeatedly in Deuteronomy and Exodus, in the prophets, and in the Gospels, the essence of Judeo-Christianity is concern for the less fortunate, in particular those who are not of our kind, who are not Catholic, not US Citizens, not Irish or German, Anglo Saxon, or Italian. Through our ancestors, we all know what oppression is.
Father Francisco also pointed out that the Gospel for today is the Jewish Creed, “Here Israel, God is Almighty; God is One. Love God with all of your hearts, with all of our animate being and with all we measure ourselves with.”
Now just how do we love God? What do we give someone who literally already has everything?” We respect what is his, in particular what is made in his image, each other, including the Hispanic, the Native American, the Muslim, the Jew, and the Anglo-Saxon. That is why Father also quoted the famed address to the nations, “As you do to the least of these your brothers, you do it also to me.” Immediately following Jesus’ Passion comes. Jesus meant that literally. As you do to the immigrant, legal or otherwise, you do it to Jesus, you do it to the image of God, you participate in Jesus’ Passion.
The Great Commandment, the Jewish Creed, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says we are to love God with all of our hearts, with all of our animate being, and with all of our measure. That includes our wealth, our strength, and our vote on Election Day. As a community, we love God as a community. That means, regardless of how, or why the immigrant arrived in our land, when we look at the immigrant, we look at the image and likeness of God. As we treat the immigrant, we treat God, as individuals and as a nation.
The first reading continues, “You will not press upon any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword/Horeb/ the place where God gave the Ten Commandments; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.”
That is our warning. Either we take care of the immigrant, the widow and the orphan, those less fortunate than ourselves, or we will again see Horeb, the horrible. We will relearn what it is like to be widows and orphans. God gives refresher courses. Therefore we must use all in our power to stop the oppression in places like Arizona, Georgia and Alabama, and other states that are attacking God by attacking the less fortunate neighbor.