A day to remember

There is not a February 8th that goes by that I don’t remember graduating from the US Navy Hospital Corps School in Great Lakes. With that on my mind earlier today I drove to St. Bonaventure University with a load of groceries in the rear of my car. I was joining a group of Franciscans and other members of the St. Bonaventure University community to assemble food packages to be sent to the Arizona-Mexico border.

On my way to the campus my car started making some scary noises and lights appeared on the console to let me know that something was seriously wrong. I slowed down and drove along the shoulder of the road and arrived at the campus of St. Bonaventure and unloaded my groceries. Br. Joe Kotula, OFM drove me to a local repair shop where mechanics quickly determined that my car needed a new wheel bearing. Joe drove us back to the campus and when we arrived we were joined by dozens of volunteers who took hundreds and perhaps thousands of dollars worth of energy bars, meat sticks, and other snacks and placed them in large plastic bags along with a greeting in Spanish and English.  Each note was signed by a volunteer who packed the bags. In all three-hundred-fifty-two plastic bags were filled with snacks and other goodies. They filled 15 shipping boxes and were shipped to Elfrida, AZ. There these care packages will be taken to the US – Mexican border and given to migrants who need some love and care.

This wonderful venture was inspired by Br. Joe who recently returned from three weeks that he spent with the Franciscan Intentional Community in Elfrida who make regular trips to the border to help migrants and recent immigrants on both sides of the border. Before we started packing and after we were through Br. Joe shared his personal journey to the border along with great photographs of the people he met, the conditions he observed and the thirty foot high border wall which is being constructed along our southern border to keep immigrants out. In some places the border wall is topped with concertina wire designed to seriously injure anyone who would attempt to scale and climb over the wall.  Joe’s voice was choked with emotion as he described the experiences he had on both sides of the border and of the horrific plight that these migrants face and the reasons that they are gathering at our border.

As I helped pack bags and worked in assembly line fashion with the dozens of volunteers my eyes filled with tears and I knew that we were truly doing God’s work. Immigration is a serious problem. That’s for sure but there must be a more humane way to deal with it. One of the stories that Br. Joe shared was of an migrant boy who threw stones over the wall and how one of the border guards killed the boy with his weapon. The guard shot through the wall into Mexico and after killing the boy refilled his weapon and shot the dead person some more. What motivates a person to do that? The boy was wrong. He should not have thrown stones over the wall, but does it justify murder in cold blood?

For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever. — Jeremiah 7:5-7

I hope that our efforts with BonaResponds today helped to atone for the way we are currently treating the aliens in our midst.

He who oppresses the poor

Some news outlets are predicting that gasoline prices will increase this spring to near $4/gallon. Remember in the years before Bush/Cheney when we paid less than $2/gallon. The millionaires that we’ll be voting for next year don’t really care that gasoline costs have doubled. Fifty, sixty, seventy or even a hundred dollars to fill your tank doesn’t matter to folks who have money to burn. It matters to the poor and low income who have to make decisions about health care, food or fuel. Where I live gasoline is $3.29/gallon. Surrounding areas where more affluent people live the price is generally lower. I’ve noticed in the past several years that there seems to be a conscious effort to victimize the poor. It seems that merchants in Franklinville, New York, especially those that sell gasoline, are programmed to victimize the poor.

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.–Prov. 14:31