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The social cost of migration (Part II)

The social cost of migration (Part II)

This Sunday, we begin the readings from the Letter to the Hebrews. The identity of the author of Hebrews is unknown and it is the only New Testament epistle which begins without a greeting mentioning the writer's name. The Letter to the Hebrews is a sermon to the people who converted to Christianity from Judaism and fled Jerusalem because of persecution. The Christian converts were experiencing loss of faith, alienation and the temptation to abandon their new faith. Hebrews is very clear that Jesus is God's son (Hebrews 1-2) and that Christians are called to go on a journey that includes suffering and death toward God (Hebrews 11-12). In today's reading, Jesus who is God humbled and lowered Himself to make Himself in every way like us. He experienced the joys, the hopes, the pains and struggles of being human. Jesus embraced our common humanity "in his suffering and death," and therefore we can identify to our God as our brother and friend rather than a distant deity.
Reading II: Brothers and sisters: He "for a little while" was made "lower than the angels," that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering. He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them "brothers." (Hebrews 2:9-11)
In the Gospel, Jesus has now left Galilee and moved to Judea (v.1). In the first part of the reading, the Pharisees approached Jesus to test his position on the legality of divorce and his attitude toward the Law of Moses (v.2). The Pharisees were a lay religious party and believed in the spirits and the resurrection of the dead. Jesus declares that the law of Moses permitted divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) because of the hardness of their hearts -- that is sin (v.4-5). People choose to follow their own will and made their own laws. Divorce was a concession to human weakness and was not the original plan of God. Jesus then uses one part of the Bible (the Law) to set aside another. Jesus citing Genesis said that from the beginning; "God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh" (Genesis 1:27 and 2:24).
The account of creation in Genesis is God's original plan on marriage and takes precedence over the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Jesus then restored God's original plan; "What God has joined together, no human being must separate" (v.9). Marriage is a blood relationship rather than a legal one and therefore cannot be legally divorce. "Flesh" in Hebrew means the whole human person that includes the spiritual and physical aspects of human nature. Husband and wife are "one flesh" and therefore share a common humanity and neither one is complete without the other.
In the second part of the Gospel, Jesus continues His instruction to the disciples on His mission and their discipleship. He said that, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her (the wife); and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (vv. 11-12).
According to Jewish law, only the husband could initiate a divorce "by writing a bill of divorce and then dismissing the wife" (v.4). Divorce was not a public legal procedure in court. The husband only has to write a decree of divorce. Roman law on the other hand allowed women to initiate divorce. Jesus, in his teachings, covered both the Jewish law and the Roman law and made no concessions on divorce.
Jesus' concern is always directed to the most vulnerable members of our society. The "little ones" are God's "Anawin" -- they are the poor, the powerless, the sick, widows, workers, and those marginalized by society. The Reign of God belongs to the "little ones" who "fear the Lord and walk in HIS ways" (Psalm 128).
The social cost of migration is taking its toll on the families of migrants. God's plan did not include the prolonged separation of husband and wife, or a prolonged sepration with their children. Children need the support of their loving parents for them to grow as well-rounded individuals. Those kids however are growing without a mother or a father, and in some cases, both parents. Due to poverty and the lack of better economic opportunities in their home country, parents seek better-paying jobs overseas. While those parents can provide for their children's financial needs, they are unable to provide guidance to their kids.
In this case, both the parents and their children are paying a steep price for the economic benefits of migration.
Migration creates many challenges to the family, society, and the church. There is a growing number of children who are born overseas -- sometimes born out of wedlock -- and later "shipped" back home to be taken care of by their grandparents or relatives. Migrants sometimes get entangled "in Taiwan only" relationships. In Taiwan, migrants who get pregnant may be sent home at the discretion of their employer and broker -- although the law states otherwise. Some resort to abortion, which is legal in Taiwan, to save their jobs or their marriage.
In the end, it is the women who will be paying the price of raising a child without a father and a husband. The number of migrants seeking an annulment, legal separation and divorce is growing. This is a pastoral challenge to our churches as well as civil authorities. How can we help migrants strengthen the bonds of love that keep their families together, and support them in their struggles abroad and the families that they have left behind? We must reach out to overseas Filipinos whose marriage have been destroyed, and to those children who are products of broken homes.
Christianity is a community that welcomes and protects the weak. They are the "little ones" in our time.
Mama Mary, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary pray for us and our family. The family that prays together stays together. Amen.
Announcements
Tune in to AM864 every Sunday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. for a migrant radio program brought to you by the UGNAYAN Migrant Ministry. The program includes Sunday readings and reflections, news and information about migrants, music, dedication, prayer requests, counseling and discussions. Requests, comments, suggestions, dedications and letters are welcome. Call or text 0930-44-6060. Sent your letter and story to UGNAYAN Migrant Ministry Radio. 390 Chungshan Road, Section 2, Tantzu 427.
The UGNAYAN Migrant Ministry reaches out to all the migrants and new immigrants in Taiwan. The UGNAYAN Center, located in Tantzu, Taichung County, serves as a center for the following ministries: UGNAYAN Music and Liturgy Ministry, Singles For Christ, Couples For Christ and Handmaid of the Lord, El Shaddai,and the UGNAYAN outreach to new immigrants and their family. Our training programs include Lay Leadership Formation, music, dance, band and liturgy. For information, contact 0930-44-6060.


Updated : 2021-03-01 06:41 GMT+08:00