CLEARING A WAY FOR LEARNING
On Monday “when Jesus entered the Temple, Jesus drove out all those who were selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves” (Matthew 21:12).
“The desecration of the Temple was the exploitation.”
Olivia in The Gospel in Solentiname by Ernesto Cardinal (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2010 c. 1976, p. 426).
Very soon after Monday, “Jesus entered the Temple precincts and began teaching” (Matthew 21: 23). What learning unfolds after Jesus clears out exploitative economics? What transformation is possible once tables of transactional relationships are overturned? What can Jesus now teach today with the memory of what happened just yesterday lingering in the space, energy, and people gathered once more?
In this class, we learned to start overturning transactional questions to clear a way for learning how to be in transformational relationships. Clearing space for teaching and learning exposes exploitative practices and habits that were shoring up tables as borders instead of respecting their potential as gathering spaces for sacred meals. Like Jesus flipped tables, we practiced flipping questions.
MDiv student Van Herring asks, “Instead of asking if a child’s life has been tough, we ask questions about ‘how tough’ and then determine if it was hard enough for migrants to have help from the United States… the real question we as Americans should be asking ourselves, is how did we get a system that makes us question children in such a manner? The question we as Christians should be asking is not ‘how many hours did you work each day,’ or ‘what sort of work did you do?’ Instead, we should ask how we can help, how can we, those of us with some level or power and privilege that minoritized children do not have, how can we act in God’s image and love and care as God would?”
MDiv student Durrell Brown wonders about the stories that cannot be shared yet in words or is assumed without any actual human encounter. Durrell writes, “I wonder how often our family members avoid discrimination, and we never know about it. I wonder how often others have judged us based on our outward appearance without understanding our story.” Flipping the question of why have children come here, Durrell asks, “What might this world look like, our cities, our neighborhoods if we systematized change through loving our neighbors as ourselves?”
MAPT/MDiv dual degree student Amber Brantley draws our attention to the power of actual human encounters with directly impacted persons. Pointing to our conversation with filmmaker Nilson Barahona after viewing “The Facility,” Amber reflects: “How do you like where you are now?” “I came to a place that was supposed to protect me; that would help me; America” (Andrea Manrique). “I always felt like an American, never felt rejected until in the hands of ICE” (Nilson Barahona). Nilson Barahona and Andrea Manrique are two immigrants that were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and was housed at the Irwin County Detention Center.”
Amber flips the asylum question about childrens’ happiness here in the US to the class and to you: Are you really happy here? “Am I really happy here? Immigrants from other countries risk their lives to come to America, and dream/long to be on American soil in order to escape the devastation in their own countries. However, minorities and certain ethnic groups are struggling in America to live the “American Dream.” Oppression, inequality, discrimination, injustice, violence/murder is happening right here. There is a constant battle for peace and justice.”
What learning is possible after clearing a way for change, after exposing exploitative structures and habits? MDiv student Michael Baguma asks about theologies of suffering and theologies of peace. MAPT/MDiv dual degree student Kenneth Rucker writes, “When I return home, I will not be scared I will be ready to act…when everyone is keeping quiet about what is going on at the borders, it will take somebody courageous to stand up and take action and the some will disagree and some will follow.” MDiv student Joseph Jumper calls for continuing access to education. MDiv student Bonnie Bakewell reminds us all that “Jesus told them that they must carry on his work to spread the gospel” across borders so that no one “feels like an outsider.” Let us renew sacred practices of learning in this newly cleared space, remembering what happened yesterday and investing in transformation at hand today.
~Mindy McGarrah Sharp, co-instructor and CTS faculty
Associate Professor of Practical Theology & Pastoral Care
Breath Prayer for Holy Tuesday:
Breathing in: in dangerous journeys
Breathing out: accompany my fears
Breathing in: when I am afraid
Breathing out: move me to love
Breathing in: fill me with courage
Breathing out: to clear a way for learning
This blog is part of a 16-piece series for MIGRATION & HOLY WEEK composed by the students and instructors CTS Contextual Immersions J-Term 2022 Courses on Immigration at the U.S.-Mexico Border. Because of COVID, both the planned travel seminar and the virtual seminar joined for a fully online zoom-based two-week seminar. Instructors compiled, edited the offerings into this series. We hope that this series that integrates our studies and themes of Lent will pose questions for all of us to contemplate and respond to in our life of faith.