It is the image I cannot shake this Holy Week.
At a meeting last Saturday, Feliberto Pereira gave his report from Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries, an agency with a long record of service to refugees and others in need along the Mexico - U.S. Border. He told of a woman who came to church the previous Sunday who is caring for three children under the age of 8. The children are not related to the caregiver or to each other; each is a U.S. citizen; and each has seen their parents taken away by immigration authorities.
The little one, the caregiver told Feliberto's congregation, was especially confused. She could not understand why her mother had not hugged her before she left. As Feliberto told the story, he raised his hands, wrists held close together. The mother was not able to hug her child because she was handcuffed.
That is the image I cannot shake this Holy Week. Monday evening, as Jan led 90 people through a meditation on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, on his anguish, and his arrest, I wrote these words:
Stay here, remain here with me.
But no, they cannot stay.
They are taken, as Jesus was taken,
The only kiss the kiss of betrayal.
The little children puzzled, asking,
Why did Mami not hug me before she left?
She left because she was taken, removed;
No hugs because her hands were shackled.
The children, los niños, left to wonder why.
U.S immigration policy is a complicated issue. I do not claim to have the answers. I only call us - myself most definitely included - during this Passion Week to fell compassion for the anguish of those children.
"Seeing the face of the God of Jesus
in the face and the journey of each of these brothers and sisters--the least of these--
makes us feel like we are always in touch with the anguish of the cross
but also with the hope of the resurrection."
- Feliberto Pereira