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Posts from the ‘Social Justice’ Category

How Much Do You Value Freedom? Whose Freedom?

Unfortunately these zebra are not free. I have mixed feelings about zoos. What about you?

Unfortunately these zebra are not free. I have mixed feelings about zoos. What about you?

All good things are wild, and free.

– Henry David Thoreau

Why do we prefer to contain them?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime (iPhoneography)

This last week Sister Carla and I accompanied students from Dominican University on a service trip to Tijuana. We stayed at Casa de los Pobres, served the poor there, painted a house, held a carnival for the children in another colonia, and had moving conversations with people who provide healthcare, social service, as well as with those who are served there, including a Central American couple who now live in never-never land, having been deported from the U.S. to Mexico. It was a profound experience, and we are sure it is a life-changing one for the young adults on the trip.

The picture below, taken with my iPhone, shows some of the homeless that come everyday for breakfast. The Casa used to serve lunch, but donations have dropped off in recent years. At least the 1,200 children, women, and men who come each day receive a breakfast of rice (sometimes with a little chicken – whatever is available), tortillas (sometimes bread), beans, and milky oatmeal. But most days there’s no lunch. On the lucky days, bean burritos are given out in the afternoon. The day of this picture was a lucky one, even though there was no lunch, for everyone received an apple. Fruit doesn’t arrive very often.

So as the Weekly Photo Challenge celebrates Lunchtime, let us remember all those who don’t enjoy lunch everyday. In fact, let us remember those who are so poor and far away from support systems that they are not even able to find breakfast.

Who can you remember today? And how can you help?

There won't be a lunchtime today . . . but at least a good breakfast.

There won’t be a lunchtime today . . . but at least a good breakfast.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

We conveniently forget what we have been taught. For we read in Deuteronomy 10:19:

So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land.”

And our President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said,

Remember, remember always, that all of us…are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.

This neighborhood may seem foreign to us on this side of the border, but in Juarez, this poverty is not unusual.

So why do we refuse to enact compassionate immigration reform?! As Bishop James Tamayo of Laredo said in a Statement at the Justice for Immigrants Press Conference in 2005,

We can no longer accept a situation in which some public officials and members of our communities scapegoat immigrants at the same time our nation benefits from their labor. We can no longer accept a status quo in which migrants are compelled to risk their lives in order to support their families. We can no longer accept a reality in which migrants fill jobs critical to Americans and U.S. employers without receiving appropriate wages and benefits. We can no longer tolerate the death of human beings in the desert.

Please join with us, the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, and others in our Stance for Compassionate Immigration Reform.

This fence between Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, symbolizes foreign vs. not foreign. Really? How can that be so!

Love without Borders

On this day when we celebrate our independence – the birth of our nation – I recall to mind the words of the Spanish cellist Pablo Casals:

Jorge . . . on the other side of the border. How do fences obstruct our love of neighbor?


Loving Our Neighbor . . . the Immigrant

Friday’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding,
with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

I wonder how well we demonstrate our love for God by our love for our neighbor . . .

  • After visiting with some of the people of Tijuana, and witnessing their poverty. . .
  • After conversations with people who had grown up in the U.S., only to be deported as an adult, even though they knew no one in Mexico . . .
  • After remembering the words of Exodus 22:21 . . .

You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.

God bless the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Peace, and all those who support them, in caring for their neighbors and our neighbors. May we learn to be truly neighbor through our trade and immigration policies, and may we learn compassion and not react to the “stranger” in a mean-spirited manner because of our fear and lack of understanding. May the Spirit help us to “enlarge the place of our tent” (Isaiah 54:2) and make room in our hearts and our lives for others who are different from us. Could this be a way for us to be transformed this Lent?

The people at Casa de los Pobres, Tijuana, gather to pray the Stations of the Cross during Lent. The students of Dominican University joined them.

Serving the Little Ones

Students from Dominican University in San Rafael traveled to Tijuana, Mexico for a service trip. It was a wonderful experience for all involved. The students exhibited generosity, joy, and a wonderful spirit. One of the places the students enjoyed most was Casa de Cuna, where young children stay for the day or week while their mothers are working. This wonderful work was founded, and is still staffed, by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Mexico.

Dominican student, Laura, plays peek-a-boo with one of the girls at Casa de Cuna.

La Voz de los sin Voz

From Mark 7 we read:

Jesus put his finger into the man’s ears . . . and said to him, “Ephphatha!” – that is, “Be opened!” – And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.

There are those in our world who need to be heard. There are those who need to be seen. Let us listen to them and speak on their behalf. Better yet, let us find a way for their voices to be heard.

"La voz de los sin voz" - "The voice of those without a voice."

This sign is displayed in the museum of Archbishop Romero in the University of Central America in El Salvador. Romero was la voz de los sin voz, and it cost him his life.