There is a daughter I mother
A daughter I love
But she is not mine & I am not hers,
There is a mother she loves
A mother who loves her,
For love is like water.
No human border can keep it out.
Yes, love is like water
It moves above in clouds, & below in soil
Yes, love is water.
In February 2018, I became a foster mom to a 5-year-old Honduran girl, Julia, who had been separated from her family at the U.S. border. First she was separated from her mother, Lupe, by the smugglers the family paid to take them to the border. Secondly, she was separated from her stepdad, Carlos, likely because of the policies implemented by the Trump Administration.
It’s been reported that a total of 5,460 children have been forcibly separated since July 2017. Child separation has been a tactic used prior to the current administration, but it was on full display and on large scale during the Zero-Tolerance policy from April through June of 2018, and then even beyond. Reports are showing it is still in effect today.
Love is like water. Yes, love is like water and no human border can keep it out. But there are several ways love has been contaminated by a source that should not have access to it, including: toxic stress, disruption of brain development, PTSD, increased anxiety, increased fear, feelings of abandonment, inconsolable crying, breakdown of family trust, physical pain as a manifestation of mental trauma, difficulty sleeping, difficulty forming relationships, suicide and suicide attempts.
Bodies are beaten and broken when parents try and try to cross a border fighting to bring life to the lives they brought into this world. As Christians, this issue should do more than prick us. We serve a God who bled doing the same thing. We must take a close look at what our theology says to situations like this. The deep question is what type of anthropology does our theology offer? Who do we say a human being is?
If our theology says that human beings are only their souls, then we can justify anything done to the bodies of our neighbors. We can justify anything done to the mental health of our neighbors. Concerning ourselves only with eternal salvation, we become complicit in state and church-sanctioned acts of dehumanization here on Earth.
What if I really believed that the people I was enculturated to hate should be the neighbors I connect with for communal flourishing?
If our theology says that human beings are only their economic worth, we then dehumanize our neighbors in the same way the smugglers dehumanized Julia’s mother, Lupe.
If our current theology allows us to filter the world through a scarcity mentality, we are already dehumanizing others and ourselves. How is it that we, the followers of the God of communal abundance, the followers of the God of Jubilee — fearfully decide there’s not enough to go around? This is not biblical. This is imperial.
Empire requires a mentality of scarcity for success. The status quo in America requires this same mentality of scarcity. This mentality says: “There’s a finite amount of land, of power, of privilege, promotions, slots at the best schools, and resources. We must keep people out. Reducing the refugee cap to a historical 18,000 is sensible. Turning away 60,000 asylum seekers is necessary. It doesn’t matter if they fear their lives are in danger in their home countries. It doesn’t matter if their lives are in danger as they wait in Mexico. There’s not enough as it is.”
The scarcity mentality demands us to dehumanize our neighbors and ourselves. It says that both me and my neighbor are not full human beings, but producers who are defined by their economic worth placed upon them by society’s standards.
But the Good News of the kingdom of God directly counters the Empire mentality by saying two important truths: 1. Every human has intrinsic value imprinted by God; 2. There is enough. The Eucharist shows us there is overflow at the banqueting table while simultaneously reminding us that the intrinsic value of human beings is worth dying for.
In Luke 4, Jesus reads a passage from Isaiah, giving us insight into why he came, why his body was broken for us:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
The year of the Lord’s favor is a reference to the year of Jubilee which signified a time, after 49 years, where fields and vineyards were to be left fallow. Land was to be returned to its ancestral owners and indentured servants were to be set free.
The point of all of this was to remind the Israelites that the earth was the Lord’s and the fullness within, that God was the one who owned the cattle on a thousand hills, and that God is a god of abundance, not of scarcity. (Psalm 24, Psalm 50, John 10)
How would our actions change if Christians really believed that God is a God of abundance? What if I really believed that my flourishing is not based on how much higher I can get than you, but how high we can get together? What if I really believed that the people I was enculturated to hate should be the neighbors I connect with for communal flourishing?
Jesus’ body was broken as he fought to bring abundant life and light into this world. He fought against the mentality of scarcity. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy; but I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.”
Scarcity kills, steals, and destroys our humanity. It is a false god that requires us to sacrifice our neighbors’ best interests and allows us to justify inhumane policies such as forcible child separation. But a mentality of abundance restores our humanity. It reminds us that we are all broken human beings called to seek the flourishing of each other.
At the Last Supper, Christ took bread, gave thanks, then broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.” He then took the cup of wine and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
When we partake in the Eucharist, we remember that Christ’s body was broken for our nourishment. His blood was poured out for our nourishment and flourishing.
When Christ is our banquet, there is enough.
When Christ is our banquet, human beings are fully human.
When Christ is our banquet, refugees and immigrants are human beings with names, families, stories, hopes, fears, and desires, not numbers, producers, or souls detached from bodies.
When Christ is our banquet, our resources are not our own to hoard, but God’s to share in communal abundance.