By Deacon Bill Batstone (Seattle)
Earlier this month I traveled with 17 parishioners from a nearby parish ranging in age from 15 to 70 to live with and assist a community that has been formed on an abandoned garbage dump in Juarez, Mexico. The parish has had a long-standing relationship with this community and the Juarez community was very welcoming and appreciative of our presence.
At the end of each day we would gather in the chapel for a time of theological reflection; focusing one the question, "How did we experience or encounter Jesus in our work and relationships today?" As the days passed, the theological reflections became deeper and richer.
On the evening of the 5th day we left the community for the first time since arriving to have dinner in downtown Juarez. We shared a common table and meal; the conversation was engaging and the food was delicious.
In our way out of the tiny restaurant it was suggested that we gather for a group picture in front of the restaurant. As we were trying to scrunch together on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant for the picture, two elderly, obviously drunk men fro Juarez stopped in front of the group and started to engage the group proclaiming Jesus and offering blessings and prayers, even getting on their knees at times. Their presence became quickly uncomfortable and annoying and we finally got them to leave so we could get our picture and go back to the community center.
When we returned we had our usual theological reflection and I mentioned to a couple of people at the end of the theological reflection, "I think we just blew-off Jesus tonight." One responded, "Oh my God, you may be right! I was and continue to be troubled by my theological blindness - how could I have been so blind, so uncompassionate, so uncaring, so insensitive, so self-centered?
Thank you Jesus for not abandoning me and for reminding me that you come to me, to all of us, in ways that allows our faith to heal our blindness and open our eyes to your presence in the world. Jesus, help me to always remember, that what we do for the least of our sisters and brothers, we do for you.
Bill Batstone is a deacon of the Seattle Archdiocese and along with his wife JT, are Mission Promoters for the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.
The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers will be offering an immersion trip this December to El Paso / Juarez. Click here for more information.