Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Representing Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Oct 29, 2017
Exodus 22: 20-26; Psalm 18: 2-4, 47, 51; First Thessalonians 1: 5-10; Matthew 22: 34-40
Prepared by:
Father Thomas Henehan, MM

Maryknoll Father Thomas Henehan is a member of the Maryknoll Hispanic Outreach in the USA.

One day after the Sunday Mass with an Aymara Indigenous community in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a young woman approached me with a small child in her arms. She asked for a blessing for her baby that she was leaving behind this week to migrate to Europe. She was also leaving behind two other children and a mentally handicapped brother who lived with her. 

When I asked why she was leaving she told of how impossible it was for her to feed the family and how she found hope in the offer to work in a Scandinavian country. She was leaving her family in the care of her aged mother. It was obvious that this was a painful moment for her and the decision was made out of desperation. I learned later that her dream was shattered and never reached Europe.ne day after the Sunday Mass with an Aymara Indigenous community in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a young woman approached me with a small child in her arms. She asked for a blessing for her baby that she was leaving behind this week to migrate to Europe. She was also leaving behind two other children and a mentally handicapped brother who lived with her.

Unfortunately her situation is similar to the more than 65 million men, women and children who migrated from one country to another in 2015. I witnessed the pain and anguish of those left behind when the mother and/or father leave the family to find work in another country.

Now that I am in the U.S. accompanying the Hispanic community in Chicago, I am aware of the suffering and struggle of migrants who constantly arrive from Mexico and Central America. Migration is considered the most urgent issue throughout the world.

The first reading today reminds us that we all are aliens. “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.” And that is to be the attitude we carry throughout our lives when we relate to others, especially to the most vulnerable among us. “You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.”

The widow was the symbol of the most helpless of beings by not having a male that, in turn, gave her an identity. The alien was one who does not have a piece of land to call their own that is essential for one to settle a family and establish a personal and family project. The alien who possesses nothing needs to borrow from others in order to survive.

The Vietnamese theologian Father Peter Phan maintains that the phenomenon of migration is changing our understanding of Church, of God and theology as understood through the lens of migration

Father Phan reminds us that creation is in itself a migrating phenomenon moving from one reality to another. In the first reading, we are told that God hears the cries of the suffering migrants helping us understand that God is indeed a migrant God who is aligned with the migrant. God understands migrants because God is a migrant God. The Father sends the Son who migrates from Divinity to Humanity.

It is the spirit who energizes the migrant to venture out to the unknown and it is the Spirit who welcomes the migrant to the new territory.

The widow was the symbol of the most helpless of beings by not having a male that, in turn, gave her an identity. The alien was one who does not have a piece of land to call their own that is essential for one to settle a family and establish a personal and family project. The alien who possesses nothing needs to borrow from others in order to survive.

The Vietnamese theologian Father Peter Phan maintains that the phenomenon of migration is changing our understanding of Church, of God and theology as understood through the lens of migration

Father Phan reminds us that creation is in itself a migrating phenomenon moving from one reality to another. In the first reading, we are told that God hears the cries of the suffering migrants helping us understand that God is indeed a migrant God who is aligned with the migrant. God understands migrants because God is a migrant God. The Father sends the Son who migrates from Divinity to Humanity.

It is the spirit who energizes the migrant to venture out to the unknown and it is the Spirit who welcomes the migrant to the new territory.

The first reading outlines the Israeli law that was aimed at mitigating the effects of impoverishment of the masses of peasants. Exile, forced by displacement because of war, usury and racial discord became a threat to peaceful coexistence and, above all, contradicted the ethical foundations of God´s people. Usury is, in the Bible, a crime comparable only with murder. Usury is the greatest threat to the poor people who were forced to pawn their own clothes to eat. Usury is rooted in the unfair perception of social values, where greed and accumulation of wealth became the goal of social relations, taking away their character of gratuitousness and solidarity.

In the gospel Jesus points precisely to the foundation of the relationship with God and neighbor as being love in solidarity. Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments and almost all legislation in the principle of fraternal and mutual love.

We live in societies today that have many more rules than the time of Jesus. Even our churches have extensive laws and rubrics. We also live in a world that has many more millions of poor,  oppressed under international usury that the prophets denounced. We live in a world where 1 in every 113 people is either an asylum seeker, a displaced or a refugee. Every 24 minutes someone is displaced somewhere in the world.

The word of Jesus that today we recall and celebrate in this Eucharist is an invitation to shake our passivity, to recover the ethical indignation at the intolerable situation of the world called modern and civilized, and return to the essentials of the Gospel, the greatest and first commandments, to the two loves; Love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself… and never forget that you were once aliens yourselves.

Photo: A young woman in Bolivia. (J. Coode/MOGC)

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