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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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Pope’s response to wall building raises the question “who is a Christian?”

Pope’s response to wall building raises the question “who is a Christian?”

On his recent flight home from Mexico, someone asked Pope Francis whether a Catholic could vote for “a person like” Donald Trump, given the candidate’s description of Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists and his plan for a wall along the US-Mexican border.

Pope Francis responded, “We must see if he said things in that way, and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”
Then he went on to say, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel.”

This pope has always emphasized the church’s obligation to do what Jesus did – reach out to the poor, the refugees, people with diseases, those in prison, those who are hurting. Jesus himself was accused of hanging around with the “wrong crowd”: tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners and a group of smelly fishermen.

It’s easy to claim to be a follower of Jesus, a Christian. Yet many people who make that claim have very little resemblance to Jesus and his teaching. Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.”

Let us look at some qualities we might find in a real Christian.

Jesus told us that the basic commandment is to “love God with your whole heart, soul and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” That means we put God first in our lives. We worship our loving God every Sunday, we spend time conversing with the Almighty who invites us into a loving relationship.

We also are to love others with the same love we show to ourselves. This means we do not put other people down, we do not call anyone names, we reach out and help those who are less fortunate. We should never use people for our personal gain. We should always act out of love.

Jesus also told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Mt. 5:44) How often have you heard people praying for the conversion of terrorists who are trying to kill us? Jesus forgave those who crucified him,

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Real Christians forgive; pseudo Christians hold on to grudges. When we forgive, we share the love of God with others and rid ourselves of dangerous poisons that can prevent us from growing spiritually.

A Christian is also someone who believes in the essential dignity and worth of every human being and is willing to stand up and defend their rights. That would include immigrants and refugees, those who live and work here without papers, or who are trying to migrate to the United States, who are uprooted by poverty and war.

That would also include those who are being murdered by drug traffickers, who are victims of crime, who are being raped and sexually and physically abused. A real Christian would uphold the right of everyone from conception to the grave.

Jesus also taught us not to be greedy. He said, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

He later reminded us, “Where your treasure is, there is your heart.”

A true Christian uses the things of this world as a means, not as an end.

Jesus also told us, “You can’t serve God and money.”

Jesus was interested in the root of things – the essential, the core, the heart of things. He asked us not to lie but to stand completely by the truth in every situation in our lives. Every day we are tempted in many ways to alter the truth.

A Christian tries to be true to oneself and honest with everyone else. A true Christian is authentic.