The man in today’s Gospel represents the majority in our world. He can’t get to the front of the line for an essential need.
In recent times, we have become more conscious of privilege, including white privilege and economic privilege. Privilege joins the other 3 “P’s” which are obstacles for growing the Kingdom of God. Privilege, Power (in this world), Prestige, and Possessions become stumbling blocks for simplicity of life, community, humility; for love, justice, and equality, all central to Jesus’s life and teaching.
Some essential “lines” today include COVID vaccine, immigration status, and health care. We are learning that communities of color, the poor, and developing countries lag behind in access to a possible life saving vaccine. Our broken immigration system preaches that vulnerable migrant families and individuals need to “get in the back” of a truly distorted “line.” Remember, if you have $1 million to invest in the U.S., you go right to the front of the line! Universal healthcare is still a dream in the wealthiest nation. Often, the infirm have to decide between buying medication or food.
Jesus seeks out those in the back of the line, as we learn in the Gospels. In God’s unfathomable Mercy, the last shall be first! Mary, Joseph and He, in the womb of Mary, experienced this when there was no room for them in the inn in Bethlehem.
Let us follow Jesus’s way, announced in his inaugural “mission statement” at the synagogue of his hometown: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind; to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Lk. 4: 18-19).
- In your work for justice and in your life, how are you called to “seek out those in the back of the line” as Jesus did?
Fr. Rafael Garcia, S.J., a Jesuit of the UCS Province, serves in El Paso, Texas, in pastoral care at ICE detention center and Southwest Key for unaccompanied minors. He is also the director of The Encuentro Project, a border immersion and educational program. Fr. Rafael is the incoming pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, adjacent to the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border, where he previously served as pastor from 1994-2007.