In our first reading from 590 B.C. Ezekiel was lugging all his baggage with him day after day. It was his way of warning the people that if they did not turn from their sins, in three years time they would be forced to leave Jerusalem with only what they were wearing, When the terrible day came they would be carrying nothing but memories of the homes where they were born but would never see again. On their month long walk to Babylon they would be forced to let their old and young lie unburied where they dropped along the way.
For us that grim picture should arouse our sympathy for exiles.. The world has forty-eight million refuges today. Those people once had flowerbeds. They had annual neighborhood events. Now they are lying on yellow earth, unprotected from the sun. Water for drinking is scarce, and there is none for washing.
Their refugee population swelled with people from Syria, Jordan now has one refugee for every three Jordanians. America is accommodating one refugee for every twelve hundred Americans. Do we feel any kinship for our refugees?
The idea of feeling kinship for foreigners puts me in mind of a skinny old Korean named Domingo. He treasured a Korean translation of “Faith of Our Fathers” written by our Cardinal Gibbons. Domingo had been skilful at weaving kitchen sieves from the long hairs in the tails of ponies, but with all the ponies being in North Korea, Domingo sustained himself with fishing from the surf.
What has me recalling Domingo now was his interest in American Catholics. I was charmed by the way he spoke of “Our brothers and sisters over there.”