There's something on my mind, and, for the life of me, I cannot let it rest. Over the course of my entire stay on Facebook, I’ve read many posts from friends and family which discuss illegal immigration and the state of our country’s welfare system. The two go hand-in-hand and most of the people who post about it, are against both. This troubles me greatly, because the overwhelming majority of those who oppose both illegal immigration and welfare are Christians, and, those who share with me the Catholic Faith.
This morning, a friend posted the following quote from the Bible, which gave great food for thought. She posted one verse, from Matthew 25:35, which reads:
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome,” and, it occurred to me that there is a strong connection between these current events, and this particular Gospel reading.
In order to fully comprehend what is said, it’s important to include the surrounding verses. Here is Matthew 25:34-36:
34 Then the King will say to those on his right hand, "Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.
With these words, we read about Jesus explaining that giving to hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, strangers and prisoners is what God wants us to do. It is our ticket to His Kingdom. Despite this, there are many Christians who are opposed to welfare and illegal immigration. They are adamant that we should not help the families and children who scramble to cross our borders in search of a better life.
These Christians claim that people take advantage of our welfare system, and, that the Mexican children are bringing drugs into our country and will grow up to take jobs away from Americans, as their ancestors have done. This, of course, is false. Most illegal immigrants labor for below minimum wage, and perform the labor that Americans refuse to do. There are still ads in the Help Wanted section of any newspaper in this country. No jobs are lost.
Another big fear is that there will soon be more Latinos than white people in America if we don’t close our gates and monitor the illegal immigration situation more carefully. Even our president, Barack Obama, is under fire for not making illegal immigration a priority. Just last week, I read that some conservatives are calling for his impeachment over the issue.
According to the US Census Bureau, 77.7 % of Americans are white, while only 17.1 % are Latino. These numbers will change over time, but with the US having over 300 million citizens, there would have to be 50 million more Latino immigrants (illegal or otherwise) brought into our country, to bring that percentage up to 25%.
These people who cross our borders are seeking refuge. They want freedom. They want a better life for themselves and their families. Let’s not forget that Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you made me welcome.”
Welfare is also a hotly debated situation. The US Census Bureau indicates that nearly 15% of all Americans are living below the poverty level. Without a shadow of a doubt, I am one of those, and, I work two jobs. I qualify for welfare, also. I struggle to make ends meet and I’m constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul. I went to college and earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and a Master of Arts degree in English and Literature, yet, I am unable to find a full-time position in my field. I’m unable to find a full-time position outside of my field.
When people oppose welfare, they cite instances were a woman in Michigan won the lottery and still collected food stamps, or, how they see people using food stamps at the grocery store to purchase a bag of chips and soda pop, when those food stamps should be used to purchase nutritious food, instead. The percentage of people who take advantage of the welfare system is less than five percent, and, people are given food stamps to help them to be able to eat food. Whether or not that food is healthy is no one’s business. We are not to judge. Where is it written that we must treat the poor as worthless individuals who cannot and should not be allowed to enjoy their lives? Denying people the use of food stamps or welfare assistance of any form, goes against what Christ taught us.
Here is the remaining portion of Matthew, chapter 25:
37 Then the upright will say to him in reply, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
As it is written, this chapter tells us that Jesus wants us to tend to the poor, and the needy, whatever those needs might be. If we refuse to help them (as in “I’m not going to give that homeless guy any money because he’ll just use it for liquor”), then, we are refusing Christ, Himself. Those are His words.
It is better to give trustingly, than to refuse judgingly.
That was the lesson that Christ taught His disciples, and, that is the lesson to which we should adhere.