One of the greatest attributes of the American people is their willingness to help those who are in need. The overwhelming outpouring of financial and material support to the people of Haiti is proof positive that the Graces of God does indeed dwells within us. And once again, the American people have turned their attention to the people of Chile during their struggles to recover from their earthquake.
Not only am I impressed as to how ordinary American citizens have rallied to the needs of the people of Haiti and Chile, I am pleased with the speed and the willingness of the American Government to - despite our ongoing economic depression - to provide additional financial and material support.
There is no question of the unconditional willingness of the American people and our government to come to the aid to our neighbors within our global community.
Yet, I must confess to you that my pride was tempered last night by something taking place within the community of Chicago.
Driving home last night from an unexpected pastoral call, I found myself having to take a detour home through a section of the city know as Lower Wacker Drive. For many years, the section of the city has been the gathering place for men, women and family who are homeless. In recent years, Lower Wacker Drive has seen a great influx of unemployed and homeless refugees seeking some form of sanctuary from the elements.
I can't help but wonder what form of earthquake or natural disaster occurred in their lives to deprive them of their homes. When I look at the cramped cardboard boxes being used as their shelters, I see them being trapped just like those buried alive in the rubble from homes crashing down upon in Haiti or Chile.
The only difference is that those buried alive in Haiti and Chile have international rescue teams searching for them. I wonder who is searching for those trapped in boxes on Lower Wacker Drive?
Let me make it clear that I do not in any way subscribe to the political or pastoral theory of isolationism. The Gospels clearly teaches and calls to us to our responsibilities to care, protect and uphold one another.
I guess I am very concerned that our national community and our government too often has less enthusiasm to extend the hand of charity to our own in need we extend within our global community.
Sometimes charity does need to be present as home.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
+James Alan Wilkowski
Evangelical Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of the Northwest
Presiding Bishop for the Evangelical Catholic Church
February 28, 2010 - The Second Sunday of Lent