We All Have a Story

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).”

In the social work degree completion program, I have enjoyed the opportunity to teach a cultural competency (“humility”) class. We learn in this class that everyone has a story, and how in listening to one’s story students can better understand how to be more effective social workers. One of the topics is immigration. In one class of 18 students this past session, I asked how many have been affected by deportation; nine students raised their hands and told stories of uncles, parents and other relatives who they have been separated from. The pain felt from this separation was seen in each person as they shared their stories.

Throughout Scripture, there is an emphasis on caring about and loving the poor, orphan, prisoner, widow and immigrant. We at Fresno Pacific have a commitment to first-generation students and “Dreamers.” In this age of discourse, we are called to love one another with a radical love that comes from the Holy Spirit. Jesus never taught us to only love and serve those who are from our own race, culture or citizenship status, but to reach out and go beyond our comfort zones. In doing this, we are living the Gospel.

I encourage you to take the time to hear the stories of the people around you today, giving the dignity and respect to all that will single us out as Christians who are “peculiar” people. I know in my busy life I have a long way to go to get to this point, but with the help of God, I will submit to the mandate to love God and my neighbor.

May we remember the prayer of St. Francis:

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life

Amen