By Jonathan Ruano

Over this past year my daily commute to and from work has significantly changed. My seven minute drive has become an hour and fifteen minutes. Naturally to pass my time on the road I have tried a few different things including listening to audible books, praying, reflecting on my daily life etc.

But sometimes blasting my playlist and jamming out is the best way to ease the pain of my long drive.

A couple of weeks ago on my way home I listened more intently to the songs that played while on shuffle mode. "Ultralight Beam" by Kanye was first up, after nailing all the Chance the Rapper parts I skipped to the next song. "Springsteen" by Eric Church came on, triggering my thoughts to my days driving with my windows down some country roads in Ohio. Next up? Marc Anthony and yes my car became a one man dance party. What a strange mix of music.

After a few moments of thinking about my playlist I realized this mix was so me. I am the young boy that traveled from Central America to the United States. That same kid is the one who grew up having all that Washington D.C. has to offer in my backyard. I am the young man who retained and strengthened his faith at Borromeo Seminary and at the grounds of John Carroll University. I am the man who stood in front of amazing kids in the classrooms of Elyria Catholic High School. And I am now the man who works three blocks from the Capitol building helping young men experience God.

My life experiences have been as diverse as my music playlist.

Much of this diversity comes from living in the United States. I am proud of my Latin American heritage and just as proud to call this country my home. This country has given me so much and has allowed me to live my American dream. But I can't help to be hurt by the tension of what this past election created. Let me be clear that this is NOT a political blog by any means. I want to only focus on the words of Jesus in today's Gospel.

"Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward."

At it's most simplest form this means to love others. Love the immigrant, love the outcast of society, love the poor, love the rich, love the elders, love the youths love the liberal, love the conservative, love those who don't love me. Love those whom categorize and call me "Mexican, alien, foreigner, illegal." Is this an easy thing for me to do when now more than ever I feel like I don't belong in the country I call home? No.

So why love them?

Because Christ calls me to.  

Because I believe that Love (God) will always conquer hate and division. I do this because I want to believe that this country is just as mine as it is anyone holding political office or sitting next to me at the Washington Wizards game. I do this so that others like myself can be proud to call America home and maybe have a great taste of music as I do.



Jonathan is a campus minister at Gonzaga College High School in Washington DC. On his free time he enjoys spending time with his family and friends and if it's around a meal even better. He is a huge sports fan, soccer being his favorite. His faith is the cornerstone of his life and tries to live by the philosophy "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam", for the greater glory of God.

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