As is demonstrated in the life and leadership of Pope Francis, the newly elected pontiff and leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, we, as faithful brothers and sisters, are called to love the poor and downtrodden; and, what better way to embody this, during the Lenten season, than to embrace the struggles of the immigrant.
Amidst the political debate and angst surrounding comprehensive immigration reform, we too often lose sight of the ethical implications legislation may have on the practice of our Catholic faith and communities. God calls us to love all people: our neighbors, both known and unknown, “legal” and “illegal,” rich and poor. When we reach out to our neighbors, we are reaching out to God. When we embrace the poor, we are embracing God. When we love the migrant as we would love ourselves, we love God.
Lent is a time for us to prepare our lives to receive Christ, to strive for a holiness that will transcend the Easter season and encompass every day. By emulating Christ and embracing the poor, the homeless, the needy and the stranger, we come closer to living the life we were created, in God's image, to live. We are called to join in communion with those less privileged than ourselves, not just in these 40 days, but every day.
Like St. Francis of Assisi and our newest Holy Father Pope Francis, we must become champions of the poor, the disadvantaged and the immigrant. We, all aliens in one way or another before God, should strive to hold the Lenten tenets of prayer, fasting and almsgiving so that during this season, we come to know Christ better and promote the justice, equality, and brotherhood for which He lived, died and rose again.
Joanna Rathkey is an intern with CLINIC's Advancement, Marketing and Communications Section