Two Tales of One City

BY JORGE PALACIOS, JR. | May 6th, 2024
Sunday’s readings

It’s hard not to feel despair at the state of immigration politics in this country. It’s also hard to see people and organizations that have sway and clout with significant sections of the American people using it to sow hatred, fear, and division. In this week’s Gospel, Jesus commands us: “Love one another as I love you.” In other parts of the Gospel, Jesus equates this with the greatest commandment, and still, in other parts, he describes the living out of this commandment as the basis for all judgment.

Back in March, I had the opportunity to attend the rally and vigil that Bishops Mark Seitz and Anthony Celino of El Paso, Texas, hosted at Sacred Heart Parish, the Jesuit parish in El Paso. It was an incredible opportunity to see people of faith in an often politicized city take a stand of love and solidarity with their migrant neighbors. This action occurred in the face of oppressive anti-immigrant laws, attacks on Catholic organizations attempting to support migrants, and the one-year anniversary of a fire at a detention center in nearby Ciudad Juarez that killed 40 and injured many others. The experience of that rally and that vigil were transcendent. 

Photo of the rally in El Paso provided by the author.

It was quite jarring to arrive home after such a loving, hope-filled event and to feel bombarded by FOX News, which was playing at the restaurant where I went out to eat with my partner.  The commentators on TV at that moment were arguing that migrants who cross the border should be hunted for sport or possibly hanged for their crimes. They were playing into deeply dehumanizing rhetoric, and it was meant to further the idea that folks who are arriving at our southern border are just hoping to cause violence, steal jobs, and water down what it “means to be American.”

I ended up leaving that restaurant, not because of what was playing on the TVs, but because I waited for nearly an hour and still hadn’t gotten seated. But what sticks with me from that experience is how the words of hatred were drowned out by the lasting joy of standing with our neighbors in love and solidarity against bullies. This is the joy of Jesus. He teaches us the greatest commandment, as today’s gospel reading states, “so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” Love is from God. Choose love and joy will follow.

  1. Often when presented with love in our lives, we can feel the presence of hatred, or at least something that works against that love. Reflect on a time when you felt those conflicting feelings. What things made it easier, or harder, to choose love?
  2. Where in your life do you feel it is easy to “choose love” or “choose joy”? Where is it hard?
  3. What is one area of you life, or in your personal commitment to justice, where you can commit to choosing love and joy over hatred and division?
1 reply
  1. Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    Jorge provides us with a picture that is both dismal and hope filled. It is dismal and dspairing to understand what happened at the protest and how people suffered. It is a hope filled story as the groups standed in solidarity with one another and made true the statement: “Love your neighbor”.
    I will make sure I treat all those I meet today with the same solidarity and kindness that Jorge staled about in his story.

    Reply

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