What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright; gracious, compassionate, and righteous. It is good for the man gracious in lending, who conducts his affairs with justice. For he shall never be shaken; the righteous shall be remembered forever. He shall not fear an ill report; his heart is steadfast, trusting the Lord.
Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Isabel and her two young children came to visit relatives in Massachusetts in 2001. After an earthquake ravaged their native El Salvador, Isabel and her family were unable to return home. Luckily, an immigration program called Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, allowed the family to remain safely in the United States.
Isabel used her new work permit to open a family-run bakery. Eventually, she decided to help improve her adopted community by taking a job in local city government. Over the years, her children grew, enrolled in local universities, and built their own families. Isabel now has three grandchildren, all U.S. citizens.
Unfortunately, the termination of TPS for El Salvador threatens to divide Isabel’s family, a reality that has hit her granddaughter especially hard. The 8-year-old recently wrote a letter to President Trump asking him not to deport her grandmother and father. Isabel, now 50, has worked continuously since her arrival in the United States and planned to continue working as long as she is able. Now she worries about being able to find a job in El Salvador. Hiring practices there favor young applicants, with the age cutoff for new hires hovering around 35.
The termination of TPS signals the likely loss of a beloved grandmother and dedicated worker.
- In the story, Isabel’s granddaughter’s greatest worry is being separated from her family, and Isabel herself worries that employment would not be available to her in El Salvador. When peoples’ needs are intangible, does that change our calling to ease suffering through humanitarian works? How would you feel if you were forced to move away from your family after living together in safety for many years? What worries would you have if you were forced to re-start your life at age 50?
- El Salvador is widely considered very unsafe due to gang violence and lack of government control. It has the highest murder rate per capita in the world. If Isabel loses her protected status, is it likely to have catastrophic effects on her life? Would it have similar effects on the lives of her children and grandchildren? If the humanitarian protections that immigrants in our communities have relied on are no longer available, what humanitarian efforts can we undertake to support them? When our government considers ending these programs, should they take the same considerations into account?
In your providence, you willed that the Christ Child should sojourn as a refugee in Egypt with his mother, Mary, and Joseph, his guardian. In this way, the émigré Holy Family of Nazareth shared in the hardships and grief of those forced to leave their native lands and to seek refuge on foreign soil.
May every migrant and refugee of whatever kind who, whether compelled by fear of persecution or want, is displaced from home and family, find courage in their example and protection through their intercession.
And, when the Son of Man comes in his glory, may he say to us: “Come, blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom... for I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, prayer written on a trip to Haiti
Call to Action
Organize a prayer vigil and invite a TPS holder or other immigrant volunteer to tell his or her story to your congregation. Invite local, state and federal lawmakers to help them understand the real-world effects of ending these humanitarian immigration programs.