“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
How hard is it to fit a camel through the eye of a needle?
I got a better understanding of the answer to this question during a recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, where I joined Catholic leaders from across the U.S., both lay and religious, at the invitation of migrant families seeking asylum. The families have been organizing to bring attention to Title 42, the Trump Administration policy sustained by President Biden that stops migrants from making legal asylum claims by citing public health risks related to the pandemic.
After a march and rally through the streets of Nogales in Sonora, Mexico, the families assembled with faith leaders who would accompany them to the port of entry as they made their claim for asylum. I had the honor of walking with Karla (pseudonym) and her two children, ages 4 and 11, who fled Guatemala after her husband was killed because the family could not pay an extortion fee. I stood behind Karla at the gate, holding her daughter while her son stood next to me. She pleaded with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to have her claim for asylum heard.
After begging the CBP officers to listen to her story, Karla asked me to speak to them in English, to ask them if they would listen. I raised my voice and said to the officer, “These people need to be heard, will you please listen?” They barely acknowledged me and never acknowledged Karla. I felt powerless to help her at that moment.
Another family came to the gate with Bishop Weisenerberger, the Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona. After ignoring the family for many minutes, the U.S. border agents proceeded to close the border crossing, lowering a gate as Juanita (pseudonym), the family’s mother, pleaded for her request for asylum to be heard. They literally shut the gate in her face.
“For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”
In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus invites us into the immensity of how God sees the world and challenges us to embrace that vision, as well. All things are possible in this vision—compassion without blinders, unceasing hospitality to those in need, and never ending love. Rather than seeing the challenge of welcoming a migrant family seeking assistance, God sees a world where no one in need, including the migrant family, is turned away—where nothing is impossible.
Fitting a camel through the eye of a needle is not easy. But if we want to get into the Kingdom, we better give it a shot.
- What keeps you from being more compassionate or welcoming to those in need?
- How might your faith community deepen its commitment to hospitality?
Watch a brief video about the #SaveAsylum action here.
Chris joined the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) as executive director in 2011. He has over fifteen years of experience in social justice advocacy and leadership in Catholic education and ministry. Prior to ISN he served in multiple roles at John Carroll University, including coordinating international immersion experience and social justice education programming as an inaugural co-director of John Carroll’s Arrupe Scholars Program for Social Action. Prior to his time at John Carroll he served as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and secondary levels in Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Chris speaks regularly at campuses and parishes about social justice education and advocacy, Jesuit mission, and a broad range of social justice issues. He currently serves on the board of directors for Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ). Chris earned a B.A. and M.A. from John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. He and his family reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.