Of Walls and Politics and WWJD

El Paso is a most interesting place to live in these days. This past Monday we had the President here defending his Wall. In the nearby town of Tornillo we have migrant children separated from their families. Just down the street from my office we have migrants being force-fed as they undertake a hunger strike. We have a young articulate Democrat being touted as a Presidential candidate. So it goes.

We appear to be living in a spiritual vacuum. Participation in organized religion is decreasing, especially among young people. Hate crimes continue. The Bible is used to justify all kinds of political stances. And many, many of us simply shake our heads, not sure of what to do or who to believe.

You may remember a fad several years ago where people would wear bracelets with the letters WWJD, standing for What Would Jesus Do. These days I find myself thinking a lot about that question — What Would Jesus Do or Say?

I suspect first of all that Jesus would be appalled when people use his message to justify all kinds of actions, especially war. He would be appalled by the prevalence of hate crimes and the justification of such crimes by so-called Christian principles. He would be saddened by evidence of extreme self-involvement and attitudes of entitlement among the young.

But what would he do? Your own answer to that question is important these days because it will point you toward whatever political stance you feel compelled to take. I am not so presumptuous as to claim that I can read Jesus’ mind so I have to try to answer that question for myself based on the evidence of his words and actions.

Here in El Paso Jesus would be out at the Tornillo camp giving plates of tortillas and beans to the children. He would also listen with compassion to the guards frustrated with the enormity of the task.

Jesus very well might picket an abortion clinic but he would also approach with compassion the young teenager as she left that clinic post-abortion.

Jesus would protest any form of war while at the same time reaching out to warriors wounded in body, mind, and spirit.

Jesus would confront politicians acting in ways against his message while at the same time reminding us to love our enemies and to pray for them. Jesus confronted and even became aggressive in the face of people using their positions to enrich themselves but he also had compassion for the merchants, the tax collectors, even the Roman soldiers who wanted to believe there is a better way.

Jesus would stroke the brow of a person dying of AIDS. He would reach out to the young man or woman considering suicide rather than tell a parent he or she is gay. He would be at the El Paso bus station passing out bottles of water to migrants left there by the Border Patrol. He would sit with the Border Patrol agent in turmoil because his own parents were immigrants.

Jesus would reassure the victim of clergy abuse that they did no wrong and would want them to heal. And yes he would confront the church officials who covered up for the abusers. And yes he would forgive the abuser.

What do YOU say Jesus would do?