The movement of “the mobile congregation,” as my colleague has called those who endeavor to seek asylum from the death-dealing circumstances of countries like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, has been on my heart in recent weeks. In light of the events of Sunday afternoon, I imagine this is true for many of us the world over as reports of the use of tear gas against the mobile congregation, many of whom are children and adolescents, emerge. These are frightening and uneasy times.
This was no less true for the Jesus of Luke’s Gospel, who warns us today of the anxiety times such as this will evoke for those who draw near to him. Further, he accompanies his warning with wise counsel, telling his hearers, “…when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” What I hear him saying to us, in plain language, is this: Pay attention because these signs of the times have everything to do with your redemption. Just as important as what Jesus says is what he does not say. His advice discourages us from looking the other way. His assessment of the situation does not dismiss the signs as other people’s problems. He does not advise us to sit idly by and watch as these things comes to pass. Rather, Jesus calls us to vigilance and to prayer, which Simone Weil described as the art of paying close attention.
Taking a cue from the Jesus of Luke 21, I have compiled below a list of resources to which we must pay close attention, especially if we are unable to accompany these asylees in more direct ways. On this first Sunday of Advent, I invite you to read them, to sit with them, and to pray with them. To what is Jesus inviting you, in light of the reality of the mobile congregation?
“White House approves military to use lethal force at southern border” by Bart Jansen, John Fritze, and Alan Gomez
“Mexico confronted Central American migrants with new severity. It cost one man his life.” by Kate Linthicum
“US Agents Fire Tear Gas at Migrants Attempting to Cross US-Mexico Border in Tijuana” by Huff Post UK and News Agencies
“The Debt We Owe Central America” by Miles Culpepper