Matthew 25:40The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
In these days of anger and rage when most of our religious and political leaders appear to be little more that saber-rattling demagogues focused on building walls and keeping us divided and steeped in hate, it is a happy revelation to come across a couple of people who are moving forcefully in the other direction. Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, and Pope Francis, the shepherd of the world's Catholics, are busy leading by word and deed as they demonstrate to the world the very core of Christianity: treating others as we would have them treat us.
Immigration is a red-flag topic both in the United States as well as in Europe. As the world economy stagnates and ruthless dictators impose their will on the suffering masses, economic and political refugees begin seeking out better and safer lives beyond the borders of their home nations. Sometimes they are fortunate enough to encounter safe harbors, but more often than not what they find instead is hostility and aggression.
Here in the United States politicians have spent years cultivating hatred toward immigrants, particularly those out of Latin America who are trying to get a fresh start north of the border. Some, like Arizona's Joe Arpaio, Colorado's Tom Tancredo, and Iowa's Steve King have built their careers on creating and stoking this fear. They have paved the way for some of this year's GOP presidential candidates to pander for votes with shouts about building walls and mass deportations.
With that horrid backdrop to immigration here in the United States, it was absolutely refreshing last December to see the leader of our neighbor to the north behave so differently. Canada's newly-elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, personally showed up at the Toronto's Pearson Airport to welcome the first planeload of refugees from war-ravaged Syria. One-hundred-and sixty eight men, women, and children stepped off of the plane that night, desperate souls in a strange land, and were welcomed into the open arms of Trudeau and members of his cabinet. As Trudeau hugged the new arrivals, he told them warmly and happily, "You are home now!" Canada is accepting upwards of twenty thousand refugees from Syria - an act of international kindness that will enrich the nation beyond measure.
This past week Pope Francis flew to the Greek island of Lesbos for a first-hand view of a Syrian refugee camp. His Holiness then went beyond just seeing to doing. He gathered up twelve of the refugees, including six children, and took them back to Vatican City with him where they will begin new lives as a free and safe people.
The world has Justin Trudeau and Pope Francis, while here in the United States we plod along with the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
We can do better.
We must do better.