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Responding in Mercy

posted November 19, 2015

Written by The Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley

I grew up a short bicycle ride from the Waco Syrian Club, a gathering place and event venue organized by local Arab immigrants. Scattered throughout neighborhoods in the city were persons of Middle Eastern origin, predominantly refugees from Turkish oppression. They were my classmates, friends of mine and my parents, co-workers, doctors, lawyers and mayor of the city. They weren’t strangers or enemies. They were friends and neighbors.

During my first three semesters of college, one of my best friends was Paul Cook. His family emigrated to the United States from Ramallah in the Trans-Jordan after seven years of separation from Paul’s father, the mayor of Ramallah, who had been deported by the Israelis following 1967s Six-Day War. Today, Paul is a leading obstetrician in Houston, TX. He was my friend and he will always be my neighbor.

Jesus teaches us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves for on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus teaches us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves for on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. In other words, a brief summary of the central teaching of our faith is to love — both God and neighbor. When asked who is our neighbor, Jesus tells a story about a man who has been robbed and beaten and left for dead. Religious and righteous ones ignore him but a despised person who is perceived as “other” mercifully tends to his needs. Who is our neighbor? Jesus says it is the one who shows mercy.

In the wake of terrorist acts in Paris and Beirut, Governor Snyder said that Michigan will not accept any Syrian refugees. Not only is his attempt to block acceptance of refugees beyond the authority of his office, it is a fear-based reaction to a very complex set of political and humanitarian concerns. As Christians in the Episcopal tradition, our love of God compels us to love our neighbor and Jesus teaches us that acts of mercy demonstrate our own neighborliness.

As Christians in the Episcopal tradition, our love of God compels us to love our neighbor.

Join me to claim our own spiritual authority and tell Governor Snyder that Michigan will be a good neighbor.

Governor Rick Snyder
517-373-3400
PO Box 30013
Lansing, MI 48909