Monday, August 13, 2007

The Aliens Among Us

To Israel from God in today's Old Testament Reading (Deuteronomy 10):

"You too must befriend the alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt."

This high powered version of the Golden Rule applies equally well to Christians as to Jews. and all of us are equally guilty of violating it. How hard it is to love and accept "the Other," when that other is someone quite different than Us.

How is it, why is it, that those who have been oppressed often turn around and do exactly the same things to the minorities among whom they live when they get half a chance? I don't need to cite specific examples here, and good thing, too, because I would no doubt get in trouble for stereotyping.

However, it does seem to be human nature to do this dastardly deed, and in so doing to ignore the common respect for human life which is our shared human birthright as sons and daughters of God.

I do have some bright news to report, however. In my experience the last 3-4 years I have run across at least two core city parishes where a very successful transition has been made from a largely European ethnic identity into one which not only welcomes but embraces a quite different Asian or Hispanic culture.

Entering these communities, I had expected a war zone. Opposing factions,... dwindling, aging European versus burgeoning, young and emerging culture. The demographics would almost inevitably set the stage for conflict in leadership transition, parish style etc.

Much to my pleasant surprise, it isn't happening. Rejoice with me that, in some places at least, folk are living up to the true meaning of Catholic identity by uniting around a shared Faith and a common Mother, irrespective of how or in what language we worship.

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