Friday, March 28, 2008

Way of the Cross-2008: Station Eleven

Kenya Dadaab Camp: Somali refugees

I was fortunate enough to discover the 20th Annual Walk for Justice while I was in Springfield Illinois. The group was inter-denominational. The Stations were landmarks in downtown Springfield that could connect current events to Jesus today. I will review each station one at a time.

Station Eleven: Municipal Building 7th and Monroe

Station Eleven: Jesus is nailed to the cross

Jesus-today the world is on the move.

In a Christian village not far from Mosul, a mother and father with two young children are trying to decide whether they should seek refugee status in the United States. Terror surrounds them, but it is 15 hours buy car over dangerous roads to Damascus. And that is only the beginning. They are afraid to go and afraid to stay.

In the Congo, an estimated 5.4 million people have died from war-related causes-not from violence but from its after effects: poverty, disease and displacement. The war began in 1998 and ended in 2000. But people- most of them children—are still dying from malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, and malnutrition at the rate of 45,000 a month. These people are refugees in their own country.

Foreign workers from southern Asia make up 37% of the 35 million people who live in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. They send money home to their families to pay for housing, education and clean water. They are beginning to be seen as a threat.

The route of illegal immigrants seeking work in the United States begins far south of Mexico. People from Nicaragua, Salvador and Guatemala cross the Rio Negro into Mexico to begin the perilous journey. …

In the United States, the detention of immigrants is the fastest growing form of incarceration in this country and is becoming a lucrative business..

Jesus, you lived in a global empire where the rich got rich and the poor got poorer. Terror wielded by emperors, kings and insurgents raged throughout your life. The New Testament says that Joseph, warned in a dream, fled with You and your mother into Egypt, escaping Herod’s massacre. You crossed borders. We don’t know if you were legal or illegal.

Jesus, help us to remember your story and the stories from our own families as we look at the intense and polarizing debate over immigration into our country today. What are the core values here? What would you have done?

This is not an intellectual exercise for folks in Fort Wayne. Our Catholic Charities is the catchment area agency for refugees from Burma, Somalia, Afghanistan, Chad, Sudan, central Asia. We also work with asylum-seekers. To the south of the city are farms that are dependent on migrant labor.We are far more diverse than I would have ever guessed when I moved here. Diversity requires understanding which requires exposure. we must get to know our neighbors so they can stop being strangers.

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