FAN Executive Director Patrick Carolan Reflects on Immigration Reform, Civil Disobedience, and Oneness With Creation

Br. Kerr, et alFAN Executive Director Patrick Carolan in the Fast 4 Families last year with fellow fasters.

In November and December, I joined the FAN staff and hundreds of members from the Franciscan family on a hunger fast for immigration reform as part of Fast4Families. On Monday Feb. 17th, I will be joining people from many different faith traditions, community leaders and undocumented people in a prophetic action and pray-in at the White House as President Obama approaches 2 million deportations. Many of us will be risking arrest in acts of civil disobedience. I am often asked why? What is it that leads me to put my freedom and health at risk for people that I do not even know? Our faith is just empty words if not translated into action and sacrifice. My reason for civil disobedience starts with a very simple answer:  It is one way I practice my faith, just as Jesus and St Francis did. When Jesus turned the tables over in the temple he was committing civil disobedience, when Francis got naked in the public square he was committing an act of civil disobedience. We need to rewrite our story to one of connectedness not separateness. As people of faith we have to have a story where people are not undocumented immigrants, where families are separated; but rather a story where we are all brothers and sisters, all part of the one family of God.

A 1966 telegram to Cesar Chavez from Martin Luther King Jr. states: “Our separate struggles are really one.” There is always a temptation to avoid the future, doing so allows us to continually live in the same story of separation. In Matthew 9:17 Jesus tells us: “Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” Jesus is a disturbing presence in a society that says some are worthy of God’s love and others are not. We cannot continue living in the same story; we need a new wineskin; a new story.

Pope Francis tells us “Being disciples of the Lamb means not living as if we were a ‘besieged citadel,’ but as a city set on a mountain, open, welcoming and supportive. It means not assume an attitude of closure, but bringing the Gospel to all, bearing witness with our lives that following Jesus makes us freer and more joyful. He also recently stated: “God will judge us on the basis of how we have treated the most needy.”

St. Bonaventure described the created universe as the fountain fullness of Gods expressed being. As God is expressed in creation, creation in turn expresses the creator. In his sermon on the resurrection he tells us that “Christ embraces something of every creature in himself.” For St. Bonaventure, man’s ultimate destiny is to love God. Bonaventure tells us to love God we need to love all that God created. Francis recognized God’s work in creation and loved it. He celebrated the beauty of God in creation, and loved God all the more for this gift. Francis saw an intimate relationship between Christ and all creation. He realized the source of his own life. Francis saw the divine beauty in all of creation and identified every creature as his brother and sister.

There is a moral foundation for our action around immigration reform. If we follow the example and teachings of Jesus as shown by the life of St Francis we have to look at everyone as our brother and sister. I am often asked if I realize these people are illegal. My response is, in God’s eyes they are not illegal and God’s eyes are the only eyes that matter. We must continue until every inch of this wondrous Earth, until every creature and all creation, are considered sacred. As a Christian, I often ask people a simple question: “Do you think Jesus came with a building plan or an evacuation plan?”  When the entire Universe is considered hallowed ground, and all creation is considered sacred, only then will we be following the teachings of Jesus and building the kingdom of heaven on Earth.

Peace and All Good,
Patrick Carolan
Franciscan Action Network Executive Director

Published in: on February 14, 2014 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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