We are all God’s children

Homily for January 7, 2018 (The Epihany of the Lord)
Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12

They call it La Bestia in Spanish.  In English it’s “The Beast,” the network of freight trains that runs some 1450 miles from Mexico’s border with Guatemala to Mexico’s border with the USA.  La Bestia carries cargo ranging from scrap metal to agricultural products.

It also carries human beings.  Every year, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children ride “the Beast,” often sitting on the roofs of the freight cars.  They expose themselves to the oppressive sun and heat in the summer and frigid nights in the winter.  They often run out of food and water only days into the journey.  They risk robbery, assault, capture, detention, deportation, injury and death.  Some make it across the border.  Many don’t.  Yet they keep coming.

They’re fleeing political, economic, social oppression and violence.  (Three countries in Central America—El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—are among those with the highest murder rates in the world.)   They’re looking for the opportunity for a better life for themselves and their families, some of whom are already here.

They pick fruits and vegetables in fields.  They cook and bus tables in restaurants.  They build and repair houses.  They make beds in hotels.  They plow and shovel snow in winter and mow lawns in summer.  They send money to families back home.  Like generations of immigrants before them, many see their children go to college and serve in our armed forces.  These and many others from all over the world are the people we remember as the Catholic Church in the United States begins National Migration Week.  They are often desperate, but they are also guided by a star.  Its name is hope.

Our gospel passage features a star of hope, and it guided the magi to the place where the Light and Hope of the world foretold by Isaiah and other prophets was born.  The world-changing manifestation of God’s glory and love was not in Herod’s palace but in a house and in a newborn child.  This was the light that Herod found so troubling.

That same light should both inspire us like the magi and trouble us like Herod.  In his recent Message for the Celebration of the 51st World Day of Peace, Pope Francis reminds us that the plight of immigrants and refugees is not limited to our country or even our hemisphere.  There are an estimated 250 million migrants in the world today.  Nearly one in ten is a refugee and many are victims of human trafficking.   Citing the Scriptures and noting the need to always remember the common good, the Pope calls all people of good will and their governments to welcome and protect these strangers and to support their fundamental human development and integrate them into their new societies.

Our scriptures for this day tell us over and over that God is a God of all people and Jesus came to save us all.  We are all God’s children…no matter how we got here. +