Crossing the Divide: Part II

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Last week we turned to Daniel Groody’s Crossing the Divide: Foundations of a Theology of Migration and Refugees as a means of providing a fuller discussion on the current discussion of immigration in the United States. Beyond solely the financial and security considerations, we have been given as Catholics a tradition that protects and promotes the dignity of the human person. With this there is the inherent challenge to strive to see all of creation with the eyes of God…

Visio Dei

Finally, with visio Dei we are called to view the world around us with God’s eyes, envisage a path for conversion, and step forward in committed discipleship.[1] Imperative here is a complete transformation and a response, both individually and as a church, to those situations that perpetuate injustice and fuel inequality. In a theology of migration, in particular, we are being asked to walk in solidarity with the marginalized, “crossing borders that make possible new relationships” and leaving behind identities which have defined us, to be in communion together.[2] To do so requires that we ethically reevaluate those decisions that reinforce barriers, to place ourselves at risk, and see in the “vulnerable stranger a mirror of (our)selves, a reflection of Christ”.[3]

In this reading, there are several noticeable insights that Groody presents in seeking a meaningful dialogue between a theology of justice and the faith experience of a migrating people. Beginning with  imago dei, we see how far removed humanity has become in understanding the dignity of all creation and our shared journey towards God. It is a poignant reminder that in a society geared towards economic profit that there is an immeasurable worth in every human being. Rights, therefore, are not something to be given by a few, but rather to be recognized in all as endowed by God. Thus, the implications of imago dei present difficulty for those in positions of power, perceived as superior, who seek maintenance of the status quo. Theology then offers a renewed sense of empowerment for those defined as “social and political problems”, and challenges all to reconciliation in our understanding of human nature and relationships.[4]

Likewise for the migrant and refugee, imago dei directly confronts society’s image of God, calling for a reexamination of both their understanding of God as well as of themselves. Rather than “interiorizing the image of the oppressor as superior and exclusively Godlike”, they are beckoned to recognize the “God-given spirit that (creates) and sustains them in their collective life”. [5] It is to encounter their true identity, and embrace their true relationship with their Creator, who is not distant but ever a part of their journey. This renewed vision is essential in awakening the promise within, hope in the world beyond, and in the potential to determine one’s future.  It further illustrates how interconnected and indispensable all of the premises for migration theology truly are in seeking to grasp the salvific message of the Gospel.

While this is necessary for the study of Latino Catholicism, ministerially, this message is important for people of all ages and ethnicities. In conversations with our youth, it is easily discoverable that they often find themselves not only labeled economically, but socially defined by race, gender, sexuality, or perceived talents.  Yet, can we as a church fully answer the nature and diversity of mission unless we also acknowledge, discuss and celebrate our diversity that exists within this unity?  The advantage, it seems, rests in recognizing the different voices and face of the contemporary church and in its gifts that we are best able to respond to the challenges of Christian mission today. Then with our elderly, it is equally apparent that they too suffer from humanity’s inability to recognize the dignity and worth of those who are no longer seen as contributing members of society. They are frequently pushed to the fringes of the community, and without family or savings become some of the most vulnerable in our culture.

This is an example of the mission set before us, calling us as a church to go forth to those most in need. The distance reminds us that quite often we have rendered theology as static and immovable when, in fact, it is to be dynamic and alive as our God has been shown to be. Instead, the church is called to be “constantly realized anew and given new form in history by our personal decision of faith”.[6] These are two points that Groody exemplified in missio and Verbum dei. Following in the footsteps of Christ, we are called to go to the outcast, to leave our places of comfort and meet the mission that God has set before us. Thus, our faith is to be both inclusive and wider in scope than the restricting boundaries we have set amongst each other.

In order to see with the vision of God, thus, requires that we accept our new identity both individually as a disciple and collectively as the body of Christ. It demands a reorientation to the communion that we share in the Eucharist to the crucified and suffering Jesus, understanding our “complicity in the suffering of others”, and commitment to a life of action and hope.[7]  Copeland’s historical accounts of racism call us into accountability not just for our actions, but our inaction towards God’s ordering and desire for human fulfillment and purpose. That same call for reconciliation in the experience of mystery of Christ, calls us also to see, do and be Christ for one another. It is not a commitment to shallow understandings of unity, or half hearted gestures of commitment but a complete conversion of heart and mind to that of God. As a Eucharistic minister, I readily see the beauty that Groody speaks of in visio Dei, in the experience of communion. Together we approach the mystery of the Incarnation as a people blessed and broken, gathered and invited to “assume a new way of looking at the world, living out a different vision, and ultimately learning to love as God loves”.[8] The challenge that the church as a whole faces, however, is realizing the extensive, inclusive, and demanding acceptance this identity implies. A unity, as witnessed in the border masses, that breaks through all boundaries, including the visible doors of the church.

Peace,

Signature


[1] Ibid., p. 660
[2] Ibid., p.663
[3] Ibid., p. 667
[4] Ibid., p. 645.
[5]Elizondo, The Galilean Journey: the Mexican American Promise. Orbis Books. Maryknoll, NY. 2000, p. 97
[6] Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen,  An Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical & Global Perspectives (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2002) p. 103.
[7] M. Shawn Copeland, Enfleshing Freedom: body, race and being (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010) p. 128
[8] Groody, p. 662.

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Pope Francis: “Wake Up!” Album Review

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Winner: Sara Babbs

In Wake Up!, a soon to be released Vatican approved pop-rock Latin  infused compilation, we encounter Pope Francis’ words in a new but charismatic way. With songs produced and directed by Father Giulio Neroni, we are beckoned to listen attentively to Francis’ homilies and prayers spoken in Italian, English, Spanish and Portuguese. Quite often conveyed in his native tongue, we are awakened to the concerns of poverty, the environment and peace then called to action, accompaniment and communion.

How refreshing it is to hear the ease and the passion in which Pope Francis speaks of these essential principles of Catholic social justice. His personality and conviction truly shine in this CD, amid the joyful cheers of those gathered.  No doubt his message is challenging, but I believe it has and will continue to inspire countless faithful, young and old alike, to reassess the need to witness and serve.

This CD in partnership with Believe Digital features a booklet with song lyrics and translated prayers and homilies to better enable the listener to follow along.  My personal favorites are 5. “Non Lasciatevi Rubare La Speranza!” (Do not Be Stealing the Hope)  5. “La Iglesia No Puede Ser Una Ong!” (The Church is Not an NGO) 8. “La Fa Es Entera, No Se Licua!”  (The Faith is whole, not watered down) It was my definite pleasure to review this album and I hope that it will be a blessing to you as well.
Wake Up! Tracks  To Preorder CD: Believe Digital

1. “Annuntio Vobis Gadium Mangum” Vatican City on 13 March 2013
2. “Salve Regina” De Janiero, Brazil July 25 and Cagliari Italy on 22 September 2013
3. “Cuidar el Planeda (Laudato Si)  Rome, Italy on 20 November 2014
4. “Poe Que’ Sufren Los Ninos” Manila, Philippines, on 18 January 2015
5. “Non Lasciatevi Rubare La Speranza!” Vatican City on 7 June 2013
6. “La Iglesia No Puede Ser Una Ong!” Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 25 July 2013
7. “Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!” Asian Youth Day South Korea 17 August 2014
8. “La Fa Es Entera, No Se Licua!” Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 25 July 2013
9. “Pace! Fratelli!” Vatican City on 8 June 2014
10. “Per La Famiglia” Vatican City on 27 October 2013
11. “Fazei O Que Ele Vos Disser” Vatican City on 31 May 2013