Ten years ago for Christmas, Father Larry Dowling, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and pastor of St. Agatha’s Parish in East Garfield Park area of Chicago, composed a poem for Christmas 2006. In light of the current status of curbing travel of refugees and migrants to and from the US, we’re, posting the poem for reflection.
Christ the Immigrant
between heaven and earth
Without controversy, without fear,
To offer His Gifts, His Joy,
His challenge, His Sacrifice, His Love.
He came without reservation
To seek a home among the human race.He came because Heaven sent Him
And earth, through a woman, invited Him.
Yet convention, tradition could have
Prevented His welcome into a family
Were it not for the intervention of
An angel in a dream.Even while in the womb
He was forced to travel
With mother and father
To a place where the only welcome
Was into a dirty stable where animals fed.
Born in poverty, he again was forced
To flee to another country,
Victim of an oppressive government
Fearful of what He might become,
A perceived threat to those in power.
And other parents suffered and children died
Because of the fear of a Child,
among many children, born of Love.
Reaching adulthood, he traveled as well,
Welcomed by some, rejected by others.
Even his hometown people
Could not accept a migrant preacher
Who preached freedom for all,
Invitation to all, without border or boundary,
To have full citizenship in God’s kingdom.
In his travels, He welcomed fellow travelers,
Inviting them to leave their homes
To migrate with Him to sow the fields
Of the human heart with hope and promise.
With His companions, He mended many
A broken spirit and body, planting seeds
Of new possibilities, new life in
Soil that seemed dry and barren.
In His travels, He shared many a meal
With those who had lost their way
And, in His waiting on them,
Nourished their bodies
with the fruit of the land
and their souls with the sustenance
of forgiveness and new life,
And a formal invitation to join
In the journey to the Promised Land.
Gospel of the migrant, the Bedouin,
The one who knows that life is
Nothing but a journey;
The Gospel of blessedness
For those who hunger, mourn,
Offer mercy, seek peace,
approach life humbly, brush off
The pain of rejection for doing what’s right.He is clear about the destination and what
Getting there requires: To provide for any
Migrant who crosses the borders
of our consciousness:
Welcome, Shelter, Clothing, Food,
Drink, Security, Respect,
Encouragement.Even in his final hours,
He offered His Body, His Blood
His Sweat, His Tears, for others.
In the end/beginning, He came,
Like all migrants, to a crossroads,
A choice between life for Him and His family,
Or death of the spirit of all He cared about.
And so He chose Life, the travail of
Journeying on behalf of His family,
to an unfamiliar, unwelcoming place,
To offer His gifts, His talents,
His toil, His passion, His heart,
His Spirit, His life, in order to find
a permanent home in our hearts.
Will you allow the Child, The Son, The Man/Christ
to cross the borders
of your fears, doubts, prejudices
to find a place to be born, to grow and mature?
Will you welcome the Mother and Father,
and countless migrant Mothers and Fathers,
who bear His image within them
Seeking to travel the road of Promise?
Will you welcome Him?
Fr. Larry Dowling
December 17, 2006