January 7, 2018

1-07-18

 

Many Journeys, One Family

National Migration Week 2018

January 7-14, 2018

 

For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for National Migration Week 2018 draws attention to the fact that each of our families have a migration story, some recent and others in the distant past. Regardless of where we are and where we came from, we remain part of the human family and are called to live in solidarity with one another.

 

Unfortunately, in our contemporary culture we often fail to encounter migrants as persons and instead look at them as unknown others, if we even notice them at all. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, as fellow children of God, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious or fearful of them. During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as community members, neighbors, and friends.

 

Immigration Reform:

USCCB Position: The Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Church support humane immigration reform. We must reform our broken system that separates families and denies due process.

FACTS:

--Since 2010, 3.6 million immigrants have become naturalized U.S. citizens.

--Unauthorized immigrants also pay a wide range of taxes, including sales taxes where applicable and property taxes—directly if they own and indirectly if they rent. Estimates are that undocumented migrants pay $11.64 billion every year in state and local taxes.

--In many cases, it can take over a decade for legal permanent residents to reunify with immediate family members from Mexico, the Philippines, and other countries (See Congressional Research Service).

 

Refugee Protection:

USCCB Position: USCCB supports protection, humanitarian support, and durable solutions for refugees and other forcibly displaced people. USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services in collaboration with local Catholic Charities across the United States form the largest private, U.S. refugee resettlement network, and has helped welcome and resettle over one million refugees since 1975.

FACTS:

--The U.S. resettled 53,716 refugees in Fiscal Year 2017, including 20,232 from Africa, 5,173 from East Asia, 5,205 from Europe, 1,688 from Latin America, and 21,418 from the Near East.

--The top six populations resettled during FY2017 were from Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Burma, and Ukraine.

--An estimated 21,027 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the United States since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

--According to the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 65.6 million persons were displaced in the world at the end of 2016.

 

Unaccompanied Children and Families from Central America:

USCCB Position: The United States should provide child welfare protection, refugee protection, and safe, human durable solutions for unaccompanied children arriving at our borders without their parent or legal guardian. In recent years, many of these children have been from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Most are fleeing grave, life-threatening violence and gang recruitment and are seeking to reunify with family in the United States.

FACTS:

--In FY 2015, Mexico deported 165,000 Central Americans. The number detained in Mexico has tripled in the past four years amid growing pressure and economic support from the U.S. to stem the flow.

--In calendar year 2016, the United States and Mexico returned 216,872 people to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

 

Immigrant Detention:

USCCB Position: The United States should fix our broken immigration system instead of taking an enforcement-only approach to dealing with irregular migration. Immigrant detention is a growing industry in this country, with Congress allocating as much as $2 billion a year to maintain and expand it. The Administration’s FY 2018 budget requests even more funding for detention. Due to mandatory detention laws, people who are not flight risks or risks to national security and are extremely vulnerable, such as asylum-seekers, families, and victims of human trafficking, are being held unnecessarily in detention. There are alternatives to detention that are more humane, more cost-effective, and more consistent with American values.

FACTS:

--In FY 2015 the Department of Homeland Security detained 406,595 immigrants compared to 486,651 in FY 2014.

--Over 200 county and city prisons contract with the federal government to detain immigrants and account for 67 percent of the population.

--Community-based alternatives to detention programs cost on average $10.55 per person per day, as compared to $164 per person per day for detention.

 

Human Trafficking:

USCCB Position: The United States must not only hold human traffickers accountable for their crimes but also work to prevent trafficking and provide protection and healing to victims of trafficking. Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of subjecting that person to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. The Catholic Church has long condemned this practice as an affront to human dignity.

FACTS:

--Estimates vary, but as many as 17, 500 persons are trafficked into the United States annually.

--Although sex trafficking remains a serious problem, the two largest trafficking cases in the United States involved labor trafficking, in Guam and in New York.

 

We will be celebrating National Migration Week at St. Peter’s by incorporating migration themes into our homilies this weekend and throughout the coming week and also by inviting some of the “dreamers” to share their stories with us. I would also call your attention to a special Mass presided by Cardinal Blasé J. Cupich on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 7, 2018, at Holy Name Cathedral at 5:15 P.M. This Mass surely fits in with the themes of Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Peace and helps all of us to begin National Migration Week, “Many Journeys, One Family.”

 

SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

 

The Epiphany of the Lord, which invites us to reflect on God’s manifestation in the world, gets its name from the Greek word epiphaneia meaning “appearing” or “manifestation.” For Western Christians, the solemnity commemorates the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles as told in the story of the Magi. For Christians in the East, Epiphany celebrates several of the earliest manifestations of Christ’s divinity, including his baptism in the Jordan.

 

The First Reading celebrates the splendor of the New Jerusalem as God’s glory shines upon it. A city that was desolate after the exile, the prophet says, will now be filled with peoples from all over the world and the kings of nations will bring gold, frankincense, and sacrificial animals to worship Israel’s God.

 

Continuing the theme of God’s manifestation to the world, the Second Reading presents Paul as one who has been called to reveal the mystery of Christ—that Gentiles are coheirs with their Jewish brethren in the one body, which is the Church.

 

The Gospel’s story of the visit of the Magi also focuses on God’s manifestation in the world. Although the identity of the Magi and even their number is unknown, most experts believe that they were scholars of the esoteric sciences, such as dream interpretation or astrology, not kings as they are later depicted in story and art. However, the gifts that they brought—gold, frankincense, and myrrh—were the gifts of kings. The story teaches that we may fail to recognize God’s presence in our midst and may need insight from the strangers God sends to help us.

 

In the reading from Ephesians, St. Paul tells of his witness to the Gospel, and in the reading from Matthew we hear that God made his presence known to all nations. These Scriptures reflect that not only the Church as a whole, but every Christian, is to make Christ known. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults states, “The people of God, as represented by the local Church, should understand and show by their concern that the initiation of adults is the responsibility of all the baptized” (#9).

 

For Your Reflection: How do you think we help spread the news of Christ throughout the world? What does it mean to you that God became flesh? When has someone helped you realize that God is in our midst?

 

THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Monday, January 8, 2018

 

Today we may choose either a reading from Isaiah or one from Acts as the First Reading. Isaiah’s words come from the first of the prophet’s four servant songs. In the song’s original context, the servant’s identity could be that of Israel or a particular individual. Christians see Jesus as the fulfillment of the servant who brings forth justice and who embodies God’s covenant to the people. The reading from Acts portrays Peter’s preaching to the house of Cornelius, where he tells us, the members, that “God shows no partiality.”

 

The psalmist’s words communicate both the power of God’s glory manifest in nature and the gentleness of the peace God brings to his people. Through the repetition of particular phrases, the psalmist calls God’s sons and daughters to “give to the Lord” the glory rightfully his.

 

Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism begins with a confrontation between John the Baptist and Jesus at the Jordan. Jesus’ response to John’s inquiry about why Jesus comes to him for baptism has historically served as a response to the logical question about why Jesus needed to be baptized. “It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness,” Jesus says. It is necessary. After Jesus arises from the waters of the Jordan, the Spirit descends and the voice from the heavens announces his identity as the Father’s beloved Son. We know going forward in the Matthean narrative Jesus is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. We know of his familial relationship with the Father. We recall the grace of the Holy Spirit present at our Baptism and the new relationship with God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—that took root in our life of faith in the celebration of the sacrament. Baptism was a beginning—for Jesus and for us.

 

The Collect emphasizes Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan and petitions that we, as God’s children, might “always be well pleasing” to him. The Prayer over the Offerings carries forward the idea of our transformation “into the sacrifice” of Christ, while the Prayer after Communion returns to the theme of our adoption as God’s children, praying that we “may be your children in name and in truth.”

 

The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus often is celebrated on Sunday, but this year it is transferred to the Monday following the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. This feast is special in its own right, but it also signals the end of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time. We will be celebrating Solemn Vespers this Monday afternoon in church at 5:40 P.M. We hope that many people will be able to join us for this important liturgical event.

 

CHICAGO SHARES

 

Some of our bulletin readers may not be familiar with Chicago Shares, a way that you can help the homeless but not actually give them cash. You can purchase Chicago Shares in our Front Office anytime the office is open. They come in packets of five (each slip worth $1.00) and they can be used to purchase food, toiletries, and other basic items at a number of stores in the Loop and in the South and North areas beyond the Loop. These shares cannot be used to purchase liquor and tobacco, nor can they be redeemed for cash. If you would like more information about Chicago Shares, you may go to www.chicagoshares.org, or you may stop at the front office to pick up a list of the stores that honor these shares.

 

 

A CHUCKLE FOR THE NEW YEAR

 

Early one morning, my husband, who works in a funeral home, woke me, complaining of severe abdominal pains. We rushed to the emergency room where they gave him a series of tests to determine the source of the pain.

 

My husband decided not to have me call in sick for him until we knew what was wrong. When the results came back, the nurse informed us that, true to our suspicions, he was suffering from

a kidney stone.

 

I turned to my husband and asked, “Would you like me to call the funeral home now?”

 

With an alarmed look, the nurse quickly said, “Ma’am, he’s not THAT sick!”