The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor

by Brother Charles

“The little ones of the world, beloved by God from Old Testament times are now the only ones who can hobble the leaders in their madness. Let the voices of these little ones swell from their villages and neighborhoods into a thunderous roar demanding peace, and survival” (Father John Hugo, 1981) [1]

The words from a priest of the diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, perhaps even more prophetic today than when they were first written, stand in judgment against the wickedness of the national administration’s policies of zero tolerance and the separation of children from their parents on the southern U. S. borderlands.

Carl Heinrich Bloch, Jesus Christ with the Children, 1800s, Copenhagen, Frederiksborg Palace Chapel

Catholics everywhere, under the leadership of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, are voicing their opposition to what is happening. Justly so. Ever since the (Catholic) Church made the choice to collaborate with the wider structures of civil government and social institutions, it has been a dialogue partner working towards the common good and a just society. The tools we have are voice, social advocacy, money, and political action. The urgency of the call to action speaks to the conscience and invades our communal and private prayer. Our bishops have pointed the way, but it is up to all of us – the Church – to stand together with our brothers and sisters, especially the little ones, on the border. What can we do? First, open to everyone is the resolve we have to represent and speak the Gospel message traduced by national leaders, especially the Attorney General, who used the Scriptures to defend the oppression of refugees and the terrorizing of children. Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, published this year on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Foster-Father of Jesus, identified the protection of refugees as a proper role for the “Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children” (Gaudete et Exsultate, para.102). The Pope reminds us, from the Hebrew Scriptures (Leviticus 19:33-34), “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Gaudete et Exsultate, para. 103).

In an era in which so many seek to sow discord within the nation and internationally, it is good to remember Dorothy Day’s injunction, “The love you give to the one you love the least is the measure of the love you will receive from God.” [2] This call to radical love is meant for all, for our leaders as well as ourselves, for our leaders first and also then for ourselves in the dialogue with our fellow citizens, who can accept or tolerate what is happening as a price to pay for further ends.

The Holy Family as refugees, by Francisco de Zurbarán, The Flight into Egypt, late 1630s, Seattle Art Museum. See also Kelly Latimore, Holy Family Icon, for a remarkable contemporary rendering.

[1] The passage is taken from Weapons of the Spirit: Living a Holy Life in Unholy Times. Selected Writings of Father John Hugo, edited by David Scott and Mike Aquilina (Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 1997), p. 183. The title of today’s blog is from Psalm 134.

[2] Living a Holy Life, p. 145

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

3 thoughts on “The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor

  1. Kim says:

    Thank you, Brother Charles. One of the things that came back from my WYD trip to Poland was the placards in the museums, at Auschwitz, in Krakow (WWII Uprising Museum) and in Warsaw, that began with the word, Remember. Remember the travesties so that they won’t be repeated.

    I am saddened by the distortion of regulations (separating children from “parents” to prevent child trafficking). What ever happened to common sense? To True moral justice?


  2. Michael Avila says:

    Brother Charles,
    A friend of mine wrote the following comment:
    Br Michael,
    So T’s new order does nothing to help those already separated and it will expire in 20 days. How can we help? If I had any legal knowledge and spoke Spanish, I’d be somewhere trying to help get the kids. This is so appalling. One can sure see how the holocaust happened. And I remember the Japanese internment- at least the families stayed together then.

    I speak Spanish but don’t have the legal knowledge. I’m wondering, is there a way that our community or we Spanish speakers can help specifically?
    Brother Michael Avila


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