Day 15: Repaying Good with Good

BY FR. BRIAN STRASSBURGER, SJ | February 28th, 2024
Today’s readings

“Must good be repaid with evil?”

In my ministry with migrants on the border, it sometimes feels like that is the cruel dynamic at play. Even migrants who do the right thing, who do good, seem to be repaid with evil. 

Right now, migrants in northern Mexico are asked to enter the U.S. by scheduling an appointment with a smartphone app called CBP One. The average wait time is 2-3 months. That long of a delay is too much for many, who choose to forego the app and its benefits and attempt to the enter the U.S. between ports of entry and present themselves to border patrol.

For those who patiently wait, their goodness can still be repaid with evil. We have met dozens of migrants recently who have arrived at the border with their appointments after waiting for months, like Vianney and her one-year-old daughter. But upon arriving in the dangerous area of northern Mexico, they were kidnapped by the cartel, forced to pay thousands of dollars in ransom, and missed their CBP One appointment while they were kidnapped. Now Vianney has to start all over again. This has to be one of the cruelest dynamics I could imagine.

Why is good repaid with evil? Why do migrants with CBP One appointments have to be targeted for kidnappings? Why can’t CBP reschedule their appointment after they have been released? Why can’t we create a system that doesn’t expose migrants like Vianney and her daughter to such high risks and dangers to begin with?

Jeremiah laments the plots against him from the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. He cries out to God. Sometimes that’s the only thing I feel like I can do. I cry out to God.

Fr. Brian and fellow congregants extend a blessing. Photo shared by author.

There is so much injustice around us, and not just at the border. Perhaps you find yourself crying out to God as I do. Hear our cries, oh Lord, and save us in your kindness! And let us recall that we need not repay good with evil, nor even evil for evil. Instead, let us respond always with good in order to break the cycle and build a better world.

Questions for Reflection

  • Where have you seen goodness repaid with evil? How can the cycle be broken for good?
  • What injustice are you crying out to the Lord about this Lenten season? Write out your prayer to the Lord.
2 replies
  1. sonja
    sonja says:

    Goodness is often repaid with evil in our world. When asylum seekers have taken the time to learn the language, volunteered in the local community and done everything possible to be well integrated into our society. They are turned down and denied the right to live and work here. Our justice system is corrupt. It is about who has the most money to pay a good lawyer. Those without money end up in prison.
    Often they are innocent and just used as scapegoats.

  2. Lulu
    Lulu says:

    I pray today for all migrants and for those who serve them. May their cups be filled with Hope, Faith, Strength, and Patience. Let God’s love lift their weary heads and keep them safe. I ask this in the name of the Father and Our Lady of Guadalupe. Amen.

    Thank you Fr. Brian, for all the work you do to welcome God’s children.


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