Trump, Shithole Countries, and Jesus

You may have seen or read a recent news story concerning Trump’s comments about immigrants:

President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to several people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers. [source: Washington Post]

Fr. James Martin, SJ posted this response on Facebook [link]:

“Why are we having all these people from sh#*hole countries come here?”

1.) They are our brothers and sisters in need.
2.) They are often fleeing war, violence or famine.
3.) There are children among them.
4.) The Old Testament asks us to care for the “alien.”
5.) Jesus asks us to welcome the “stranger.”
6.) Jesus asks us to love one another.
7.) We will be judged on how we care for the stranger.
8.) They come bringing hope.
9.) It’s the right thing to do.
10.) That’s who we are.

One more reason: Jesus himself was from a “sh#*hole” place. Nazareth was a minuscule town of 200 to 400 people, where people lived in small stone houses, and, say archaeologists, garbage (that is, s#*t) was dumped in the alleyways. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” says Nathanael when he hears where the Messiah is from.

God, in other words, came from a “sh#*hole” place. And he pointedly asked us to welcome him whenever he appeared as a “stranger,” or as one of our “least” brothers and sisters. That’s why we have all these people come. Because Jesus came.

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The Baptism of the Lord

Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord

His_Baptism017The Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord is closely connected with the Solemnity of the Epiphany; both are biblical manifestations of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. On the occasion of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan river at the hands of St. John the Baptist, the voice of God was audibly heard to declare to the gathered crowd, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” At his baptism Jesus sanctified the earth’s waters, giving water the power to beget sons of God through the Sacrament of Baptism. Through the cleansing waters of baptism Jesus heals our sinful nature and clothes us with his own Divine life, bringing us into the Kingdom of God. It is by imitating Our Lord in his Baptism that a person becomes a Christian, the first sacrament of initiation into the Church. The feast of the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of the Christmas season on the new liturgical calendar.

[source: the morning offering]

Collect of the Day

Almighty ever-living God, who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him, solemnly declared him your beloved Son, grant that your children by adoption, reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, may always be well pleasing to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Washington Post Opinion Piece – How Not to be a Scoundrel

Distinguished person of the week: One man wouldn’t join in Trump’s skulduggery

By Jennifer Rubin

I cannot tell you why so many White House staffers cited in Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” did not quit on principle or come forward with their concerns about the president’s fitness for office. What can I say? People are careerists; they become addicted to the power and prestige that comes with working in the White House. (And sadly, with this president, the best and brightest and most morally grounded people did not go work in the White House in the first place.)

Nevertheless, in all that we have learned over the past week and all the anecdotes about those facilitating possible obstruction of justice and enabling a non-functional president, one person managed to do the right thing. Mark Corallo, former spokesman for President Trump’s legal team, did not simply follow along. Trump and his advisers, returning home on Air Force One this past summer, busily drafted and redrafted a misleading statement to explain the infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. “Mark Corallo was instructed not to speak to the press, indeed not to even answer his phone,” according to Wolff. “Later that week, Corallo, seeing no good outcome — and privately confiding that he believed the meeting on Air Force One represented a likely obstruction of justice — quit.”

He should be an example to others in government service, really in any line of work. No job, no relationship is worth sacrificing your reputation and credibility. Shade the truth here, lie there. Soon you’ll have lost your soul. C.S. Lewis wrote about the phenomenon, the urge to stay in the “Inner Ring” that drives even good people to do bad things:

To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colours. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink, or a cup of coffee, disguised as triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still—just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naïf or a prig—the hint will come. It will be the hint of something which the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand: something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about: but something, says your new friend, which “we”—and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure—something “we always do.”

And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. … And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel. … Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things.

Corallo resisted that urge, did the right thing and quit. For that he may be remembered as a single honest man among a pack of scoundrels. For that we can say, well done, Mr. Corallo.

Feast of Epiphany

What Is Epiphany?

Fairchild, Mary. (2018, January 5). What Is Epiphany? Excerpted from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-epiphany-700440

Also Known as Three Kings Day and Twelfth Day

Because Epiphany is primarily observed by Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican Christians, many Protestant believers don’t understand the spiritual significance behind this holiday, one of earliest feasts of the Christian church.

What Is Epiphany?

Epiphany, also known as “Three Kings Day” and “Twelfth Day,” is a Christian holiday commemorated on January 6. It falls on the twelfth day after Christmas, and for some denominations signals the conclusion of the Christmas season.

Though many different cultural and denominational customs are practiced, in general, the feast celebrates the manifestation of God to the world in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ, his Son.

His_Baptism017

Epiphany originated in the East. In Eastern Christianity, Epiphany puts emphasis on the baptism of Jesus by John (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22), with Christ revealing himself to the world as God’s own Son:

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:9–11, ESV)

3-wise-men

Epiphany was introduced into Western Christianity in the 4th century.

The word epiphany means “appearance,” “manifestation,” or “revelation” and is commonly linked in Western churches with the visit of the wise men (Magi) to the Christ child (Matthew 2:1-12).

Through the Magi, Jesus Christ revealed himself to the Gentiles:

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

… And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.

… And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

wedding cana

On Epiphany some denominations commemorate Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), signifying the manifestation of Christ’s divinity as well.

In the early days of church history before Christmas was observed, Christians celebrated both the birth of Jesus and his baptism on Epiphany. The feast of Epiphany proclaims to the world that a child was born. This infant would grow to adulthood and die as the sacrificial lamb. The season of Epiphany extends the message of Christmas by calling believers to manifest the gospel to the whole world.

Today in Europe, Epiphany celebrations are sometimes just as important as Christmas, with celebrants exchanging gifts on Epiphany instead of Christmas, or on both holidays.

Epiphany is a feast that recognizes the manifestation of God in Jesus, and of the risen Christ in our world. It is a time for believers to consider how Jesus fulfilled his destiny and how Christians can fulfill their destiny too.


Gospel Mt 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

Collect – Church of England

O God,
who by the leading of a star
manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth:
mercifully grant that we,
who know you now by faith,
may at last behold your glory face to face;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Collect – Mass of St. Pius V

“O God, Who by the guidance of a star didst this day reveal Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we, who know Thee now by faith, may be so led as to behold with our eyes the beauty of Thy majesty. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.”

January Pope Video – Religious Minorities in Asia

Pope Francis has kicked off the new year by shedding light on the plight of persecuted religious minorities in Asia, asking that Catholics join him in praying for these people and for religious freedom in their countries.

The video, released Jan. 5, opens by showing images of different scenery and people in Asia as the Pope, speaking in his native Spanish, says that “in the vastly diversified cultural world of Asia, the Church faces many risks and her task is made more difficult by the fact of her being a minority.”

These risks and challenges, he said, “are shared with other minority religious traditions, with whom we share a desire for wisdom, truth and holiness.” [source – EWTN]

Pope’s Prayer Intentions for 2018

JANUARY
Evangelization: Religious Minorities in Asia
That Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian countries, may be able to practise their
faith in full freedom.

FEBRUARY
Universal: Say “No” to Corruption
That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.

MARCH
Evangelization: Formation in Spiritual Discernment
That the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on
the personal and communitarian levels.

APRIL
Universal: For Those who have Responsibility in Economic Matters
That economists may have the courage to reject any economy of exclusion and know how to
open new paths.

MAY
Evangelization: The Mission of the Laity
That the lay faithful may fulfil their specific mission, by responding with creativity to the
challenges that face the world today.

JUNE
Universal: Social Networks
That social networks may work towards that inclusiveness which respects others for their
differences.

JULY
Evangelization: Priests and their Pastoral Ministry
That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and
comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.

AUGUST
Universal: The treasure of Families
That any far-reaching decisions of economists and politicians may protect the family as one
of the treasures of humanity.

SEPTEMBER
Universal: Young People in Africa
That young people in Africa may have access to education and work in their own countries.

OCTOBER
Evangelization: The Mission of Religious
That consecrated religious men and women may bestir themselves, and be present among the
poor, the marginalized, and those who have no voice.

NOVEMBER
Universal: In the Service of Peace
That the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.

DECEMBER
Evangelization: In the Service of the Transmission of Faith
That people, who are involved in the service and transmission of faith, may find, in their
dialogue with culture, a language suited to the conditions of the present time.

What is the process in the preparation of the prepared prayer intentions? The faithful from around the world suggest papal prayer intentions to the international office of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network in Rome. Through prayerful discernment the international office selects a large number of them and submits them to the Vatican for further selection, with the Pope making the final selection. The Vatican then entrusts to the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network the official set of monthly prayer intentions, which are then translated into the major world languages and published in print and digital formats.

pope prayer network logo

New Year’s Prayer

God, thank you for a new year. May everyone in our family be willing to begin anew with a clean slate. We know that you are always ready to forgive us. Help us to be willing to forgive ourselves and to forgive one another.

As we begin a new year, remind us of our truest values and our deepest desires. Help us to live in the goodness that comes from doing what you want us to do. Help us to put aside anxiety about the future and the past, so that we might live in peace with you now, one day at a time.