LOCKETT: In His Light -- Jesus, the Son of God and migrant on the run

January 15, 2019

For a child is born to us, a Son is given to us; upon His shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, Upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains. By judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (Isaiah 9:5-6)

A portion of this narrative is taken from a homily I delivered on the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, June 28, 2018. On Christmas Eve of this year, while the majority for our world was in preparation for the birth of the Son of God, a young Guatemalan family was being informed of the death of their son because of the evil and misguided immigration policy of this nation.

That Son of Almighty God born as a babe — born in a fetid stable with only barn-yard animals as witnesses to His glorious and miraculous birth — will soon become a migrant Himself on the run from a governmental leader set to destroy Him because of sin-sick political reasoning.

This Son of the Creator of heaven and earth is the Wonder Counselor, God Hero, Father Forever, Prince of Peace. Let us give thanks and praise that he was not stopped by border patrol guards, ripped from the arms of His holy parents, and then caged like an animal at Houston Zoo.

“When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.’ Joseph rose and took the Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled. Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:13-23)

I am a child of the 1950s and ’60s. As an eyewitness to the birth and events of the Modern American Civil Rights Movement, I can recall very vividly viewing elected officials releasing vicious dogs on protestors, using fire hoses as artillery-fashioned water cannons, and merciless beating men, women, and children within an inch of their lives. 

This behavior was America at her worse — disgraced, despicable and sadistic. The majority of Americans believed that the passing of civil rights and voting right legislation in the 1960s had forever edited her manuscript of discrimination, hatred and bigotry, and had finally begun to live out the core teaching of her creation: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

It would appear that the operation and policy of this administration was just a lull in the storm of hatred and discrimination in our nation, and once again we find ourselves actively pursuing and engaging in bigotry or racism. You decide which one. 

The difference between bigotry and racism is the fact that racism discriminates based on race, whereas bigotry discriminates based on one’s own opinion, which can include race, gender, religion and nationality. Most of us in this Archdiocese are an immigrant in this nation. I purposely stated most of us because the majority of us are immigrants to this nation in one form or fashion — either through our ancestors’ migration to this nation from another country or our path to citizenship. 

The only two ethnic groups not migrants to this nation are the Native Americans and those of us of African descent. The Native Americans were already living and peacefully existing on this continent when it was discovered by European explorers. 

Those of us of African descent are the only ethnic group in this nation whose ancestors arrived at these hallowed shores not through Ellis Island under the shade and protection of Lady Liberty, but in chains, carted as cargo in the hull of a ship. The horror and shame that is taking place in this nation at this hour and especially in our home state of Texas is a sin before Almighty God. Unless we are actively participating in ending this horror, we are guilty and culpable as well. End of story.

How did we arrive at this hour? As sensible and dignified human beings professing to be supposed children of the Divine Creator and sisters and brothers of Jesus of Nazareth, how can we allow babies to be ripped from their parents’ loving embrace, stacked in germ-laced facilities or shipped like freight across this nation?

Throwing out a few soccer balls and allowing petting dogs and video games in these encampments of evil and shame will not take away the hurt, trauma and wretchedness we are inflicting on these precious children of Almighty God.

Keep in mind the last time our government allowed children to be ripped from their parents’ arms and carted away was during slavery. Many of our officials proudly stood and proclaimed it was nothing they could do because it was the law of the land, and good-hearted and faith-filled people also stood in silence, not uttering a word. 

As Roman Catholics, we boost that we are the crusaders of the pro-life movement here in the United States, and rightfully so because we are. We faithfully march to medical facilities and pray in the name of Almighty God for those entering the establishments for their actions and choice of conscience. 

As Roman Catholics, we must always be cognizant that we profess that life is life — in the womb, locked-up in wire cages, or in shattered chains. We are subsisting in a nation at this hour where it appears our children and youth have become after-thoughts, dispensable, or collateral damage. 

How did we become a nation where our children are now afraid to attend school? How did we become a nation where our children have become easy hunting prey for those who are seeking momentary evil-laced fame and glory? However, it appears that many of us are more concerned about protecting our right to bear arms than our children’s rights to a safe and nurturing educational environment.

How did we as a nation and as a people of God arrive at this demonic abyss of evil, bewilderment and sacrilegious disgust in our nation? How and will it ever end? Where is the outcry from our religious and elected leaders, or have they too sipped the Kool-Aid of turning a blind eye? 

Let us pray: Lord, open our eyes that we may see you in our persecuted and tormented brothers and sisters. Lord, open our ears that we may hear the cries of the hungry, the exiled, the frightened, the oppressed, and the immigrant. You yourself once lived as an immigrant in a foreign land. Lord, open our hearts that we may love each other as you love us.

Deacon Leonard Paul Lockett is a deacon with the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston.