Wednesday, October 24, 2018



As I begin this, thousands of Hondurans, Guatemalans, El Salvadorians, Mexicans are continuing their long trek to the US. The public claim is flight from violence, unemployment, poverty. True as those reasons maybe it is highly unlikely this is a truly spontaneous event.  There is manipulation of these people in the shadows. This and other harsh realities call for deep and prayerful concern for the present situation and future of the human family.

I write the essay which follows, because of what is so widespread within the human family: anger, discrimination, individual-mob-state violence. Anxiety and despair dominate, and of all religions Christianity, more than any other, is under constant assault: in democratic countries by government and media, in others, persecution by blood. As I did the final edit, this has proven to be much, much longer than anticipated so is divided into sections. Also, though not my custom, while I research before writing, this time, given the urgency of the topic, I am including references to quotations and recommended book resources I have used as research.

More than anything else flowing, from this is: my urgent plea we reflect, ask the grace needed, so that in our suffering, no matter the cost, we become authentic witnesses to Christ and with Him become ever more compassionate. Should we fail to do so we shall all find ourselves overtaken by a global, human, catastrophe beyond imaging.

Mass illegal migration is the hundreds of thousands of people pouring into the countries of western Europe and North America. The established populations of these countries are understandably overwhelmed, and seeing the free housing, food, medical care offered these illegal newcomers, feel ever more the weight of their own strained resources to care for their families.

Left leaning politicians, intellectuals, tv pundits, - the elites - compound the stress by poorly articulated reasons why the newcomers should be so generously accommodated. At the same time these elites, who tend to be high income earners and thus virtually immune to the stresses on ordinary people, assert those who object to this lavishness to the illegals as hardhearted rightist populists, less then true citizens/Christians, translation: less human. This extreme rhetoric only adds to the mounting confusion, righteous fury, of ordinary people.

There are many causes of this global spread of anger, violence, anxiety, despair within the human family: ever higher taxes, yet infrastructures continue to crumble, affordable housing is lacking, gang violence is out of control, border security is virtually non-existent, add on the ever increasing cost of food, fuel, housing, medical care, schooling, the dearth of stable employment, the war against faith and family, by the elites and we see anger, frustration, despair weighing ever more heavily on ordinary citizens.

The tone deafness by mostly leftist elites is a major factor in the rise of so-called populism throughout the world.

If, as priests and bishops, we are to encourage people, in the midst of the extreme stress of life today, to live out the Gospel, in particular Christ’s call to active-compassionate-love, [cf. Mt. 25:31-46] then we need to live out this from the Second Vatican Council:  Led by the Spirit of the Lord, who anointed the Saviour and sent Him to evangelize the poor, priests, therefore, and also bishops, should avoid everything which in any way could turn the poor away. Before the other followers of Christ, let priests set aside every appearance of vanity in their possessions. Let them arrange their homes so that they might not appear unapproachable to anyone, lest anyone, even the most humble, fear to visit them. [1]

Within all the dissension in contemporary social and political life, there is one ray of hope: the rise of moderate populism [2] which engages people to bring back right order into the life of our countries.

Again it must be stated that it is the tone deafness of elites to the real concerns of real people about all that is happening in the world today which intensifies the anxiety and discouragement, the anger, so as a human family we no longer see, speak, hear, reflect, make choices based upon people, that is upon every human being, for we all are children of God, brothers and sisters, one family created in His image and likeness.

Increasingly our seeing, speaking, hearing has become a reflexive response that sets the mind, the emotions, on autopilot hence: all immigrants are potential terrorists or violent criminals, all politicians are only concerned about themselves, all elites utterly disdain the rest of us and seek to impose their agenda on us.

More important than any writing, my primary priestly mandate, a mandate also for every baptized person, is to pray for every human being on earth, irrespective of their race, religion, or no religion, social status, regardless be they friend or enemy. A mandate given by Jesus: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for He makes His sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. [Mt.5:43-45]

As Our Lady tells us at Fatima, applicable still in our day: "I am the Lady of the Rosary, I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask for pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too grievously offended by the sins of men. People must say the Rosary. Let them continue saying it every day. Fly from riches and luxury; love poverty and silence; have charity, even for bad people. "

All freedom comes from God, for He Himself breathes life into us and endows us with free will.

Exercise of freedom means mature, intelligent reflection upon the options, and a clear understanding of the consequences, and potentially unintended consequences, of the choices we make. This obligation of mature responsibility in the exercise of freedom is incumbent upon leaders in the realms of society, politics, religion, media, economics, the arts, medicine, science etc., as well.

We must believe, trust, live out the truth as Jesus tells us: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” [Mt.5:13-16] It is the call to preach the Gospel with our lives without compromise.

Pierre Manet notes something applicable not just to the situation in France, but to all the situations around the world causing ordinary people to be so angry, frightened, despairing: The word that fits the new reality is war. A war against us has been declared and is happening. [3]

There is a well of anger people keep going to, drawing out buckets of hatred, frustration, discouragement and all the social divisions and chaos that flow therefrom. This is of immense danger, global war danger, for the entire human family.

As Jean Vanier expresses it: Among humankind, the family represents that basic social unit. However, everywhere we look, the basic place of belonging is breaking down……everywhere more and more people are frightened of commitment. And why is this happening? I believe it is because out Western societies have placed the power, rights, and needs of the individual above those of the group. [4]

Only a radical, rooted in Jesus Christ metanoia, that is conversion of our own hearts, as individuals, societies, religions, will open for us the door of hope, allowing us to see hope is not a thing desired, but a person encountered who, Himself, is our hope, because He alone is the way we seek, the truth we need, the love, the life we hunger for. Opening the door is not that difficult since we already know He is here: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with Me.” [Rev.3:20 & Lk. 24:13-35]

© 2018 Fr. Arthur Joseph

[1] cf. DECREE ON THE MINISTRY AND LIFE OF PRIESTS, Ch. 111, sec. 2, para 17

[2] cf. Stephan J. Harper: Right Here Right Now, Politics and Leadership In The Age of Disruption

[3] cf. Beyond Radical Secularism: p.33- Pierre Manet

[4] Becoming Human: p.50- Jean Vanier