At the Kino Border Initiative on the border this summer, I met Nelson – a young man fleeing violence in Honduras. He finds himself now at KBI preparing to cross into the United States through the perilous Sonoran desert. He has a sparkle in his eyes – an unquenchable esperanza that he’ll make it and find a way to send money back to his family. He doesn’t know what dangers await him in the desert.
Perhaps he’ll find himself like Elijah – exhausted, hungry, lost. Or perhaps he’ll find his angel – a jug of water left for migrants by No More Deaths. Will he lose that unquenchable hope?
Will he, like many others, die in the desert, or will he find refuge in our nation?His story is one of hundreds just like it. Nelson challenges us to ask ourselves who we are in his story. Will we intervene like the angel did to restore hope, safety, and security to Elijah? Or will we grumble like the people encountering the prophetic words of Jesus – questioning the validity of his story and his “illegal entry” into the United States?
As we struggle to make sense of our national immigration crisis, we are invited to see Nelson as a human seeking that same bread of life we long for. Certainly, some heard the words of Jesus and turned away, for his teachings seemed absurd and insane. We have a choice – confronted with a God who desires that we labor to be compassionate and forgiving, to live in love. If we choose welcome, we’ll create a community that is the beautiful fragrant aroma that God so desperately desires for all of us.
Lucas Sharma, S.J., is a Jesuit-in-formation of the Jesuits West Province and a student at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. Previously, he taught sociology at Seattle University. He is especially interested in the intersection between diversity, equity, inclusion, and Jesuit Catholic identity and mission. When not studying, Lucas loves to cook and watch the soap opera General Hospital.