This coming week we have the opportunity to enact our faith with those fleeing violence and seeking sanctuary in our country. Doing so is how we can actually make Holy Week holy.
Starting Sunday and continuing until Easter, Christians from around the world will gather to remember and re-enact Jesus' final days. He risked traveling to Jerusalem to teach and heal, eventually being assassinated by the Roman Empire through crucifixion, yet raised from the dead to show that the Divine stands with the lowly and oppressed of the earth.
Today, millions risk violence to escape from violence; they risk death to have a chance at life, crossing deserts and raging seas. They face scorn and rejection as they look for a place to lay their heads. Refugees and immigrants face hurdles most of us cannot fathom, only to arrive to face new dangers whether on our shores or in Europe, especially.
Rather than merely lament the hard-hearts that demand the crucifixion of strangers, I invite you to find opportunities to show Christ's face of welcome, to show that his way was not and cannot be killed so long as there are those who follow. I know of at least two Los Angeles-area events that reveal this truth.
This Sunday afternoon will be the 14th annual Palm Sunday Peace Parade in Pasadena, CA, thematically focused on welcoming refugees. Divine Wisdom as Sophia will lead us as we march from north of the 210 Interstate south to downtown Pasadena (the 210 acts as a cultural dividing line in the city). It is an event for families that shows the spirit of the gospel (besides being a lot of fun!).
On the following Wednesday morning, a coalition of faith, labor, and community organizations will gather in downtown Los Angeles demanding "Sanctuary, Not Deportation!" for our siblings coming to our country as immigrants and refugees. It will involve a pilgrimage, rally, and prophetic street action, identifying the spirit and institutions of violence that turn away "angels unawares." It lifts up in particular the raids targeting refugee mothers and children fleeing extreme violence from Central America and those seeking asylum.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus' family fled to Egypt to escape political persecution. We can honor that story by living the values of compassion and justice today, wherever we may dwell. For in doing so, we can make the week a holy one.
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