By Elvira Arellano
We have been commemorating Holy week in Mexico this week, reliving the Stations of the Cross that made up the crucifixion of Jesus. We have done this to bring to light the cruel and brutal oppression of migrants coming up from the south through Mexico on their way to the United States. Led by the courageous Father Solalinde, we will make a planton in the Chamber of deputies to try to finally pass a law that will protect and provide dignity to these migrants.
As frustrated as we are with the Mexican government we know that the problem lies further to the north. The largest number of federal prosecutions in the United States are not for smuggling guns or narcotics or murder or terrorism. No the largest number of federal prosecutions are against migrants returning to the United States to return to support and be with their families after having been deported. For them, God’s law of faithfulness to their families is more important than the twisted and broken U.S. immigration laws.
President Obama, whose administration has deported more people, separated more families, than any other U.S. administration in history, held the “second annual Easter Prayer breakfast.” In his remarks, he commented that “Jesus offered us his unfathomable grade, this unfathomable grace, this amazing grace, and it causes me to reflect, to pray, to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I’ve not shown grace to others.”
I am glad that the President is praying for forgiveness. Yet it brings to mind a famous character in the gospels, the man called Nicodemus. Nicodemus came to Jesus in the darkness of night to talk with our savior. Jesus scolded Nicodemus, telling him that he must be “born again” to enter the Kingdom of God and Nicodemus seems not to understand or to accept this radical teaching.
If you look further into the gospels, you will see that Nicodemus was also a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council made up of priests, lawyers (scribes) and rich landowners. It is this ruling group that “tried” Jesus and took him to the Romans to get their approval for crucifixion. Nicodemus never said a word in defense of Jesus at the Sanhedrin.
It is these “secret Christians”, those who pray for forgiveness in private but carry out unjust laws in public that may be in fact our greatest problem. Perhaps that is why the harshest words Jesus spoke were against the “hypocrites.” Perhaps those is why Jesus told Nicodemus that he “Must be born again”, that he must start over and take his stand with Jesus.
Obama has the power to use his discretionary authority to grant parole in place to the parents of U.S. citizen and dream act eligible children. That could allow these families to stay united in accord with their sacramental vows. President Obama has postponed his meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at which he was supposed to give them an answer to their demand that he use this discretionary authority.
I wonder if the President has postponed the meeting so he could pray for forgiveness, in the darkness of night, like Nicodemus.