Last Thursday I gave a presentation on Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium to those who will be going on mission in our parish in October. I had recently met with a group of confirmation catechists where I asked the catechists what is the meaning the word Gospel – evangelio in Spanish. She hemmed and hawed. And so I decided to talk about the word.
Gospel, Evangelio, means good news. But I think we always need to talk about the Good News of the Kingdom of God in the light of the bad news around us.
In today’s Gospel, Luke 4: 16-30, we find Jesus taking as his own mission the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…to bring Good News to the poor.”
There’s lots of bad news – hurricane in Texas, land slide in Sierra Leone, deadly flooding in India and other south Asian countries. But there is also the threat to end a program, DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and place maybe 800,000 young immigrants in danger of deportation. These young people came to the US as minors, live in the US as good, law-abiding persons. Yet, they may be the latest victims of anti-immigrant sentiments that have no place in the lives of people of faith.
In the face of this, how will we followers of Christ be “Good News for the poor,” for the outcasts, the strangers, the despised and rejected?
I am far from the US at this point. I often try to persuade young people not to go to the US. But, as one said to me, “What does my country have to offer me?” But what can I do to help them see hope here? And what can any of us do to provide a place of love and safety for all God’s people.
Here’s the text of the Catholic bishops’ of Iowa to Iowa’s Congressional delegation
The Iowa Catholic Conference supports DACA youth. DACA youth are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. These young people entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. The dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be protected.
Since 2012, nearly 800,000 of these young people have come forward, passed background checks, paid a fee, and received permission to live and work in America. With DACA they have advanced their education, started small businesses and more fully established themselves as integral members of our society.
We urge you to publicly support DACA youth here in Iowa. We also call upon you to move forward in a bipartisan manner and find a permanent legislative solution to ensure that DACA youth can remain in the United States and can continue to reach their God-given potential. One such existing proposal is the bipartisan DREAM Act of 2017, which we support. We promise to work with lawmakers from all parties to ensure that DACA youth are able to stay in this country and live without fear.
Lastly, to DACA youth and their families here in Iowa, we note the words of the USCCB Migration Committee Chair, Bishop Joe Vasquez: “Please know that the Catholic Church stands in solidarity with you. We recognize your intrinsic value as children of God. We understand the anxiety and fear you face and we appreciate and applaud the daily contributions you make with your families, to local communities and parishes, and to our country.”
Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque
Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City
Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines
Bishop Thomas Zinkula of Davenport