Undocumented heart

A boy smiles after receiving a blessing from Chicago Auxiliary Bishop John R. Manz inside a makeshift chapel for migrant workers in Boaz, Ala., in October 2013. Photo: CNS/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World A boy smiles after receiving a blessing from Chicago Auxiliary Bishop John R. Manz inside a makeshift chapel for migrant workers in Boaz, Ala., in October 2013. Photo: CNS/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World

By ordinance of God, the giver of life, I was born on Mexican soil. My heart has made me a missionary without citizenship in every place that does not recognize me as a brother. I will remain a stranger in this world until the day the creator of all things and all people returns me to the place of origin I left in order to become a pilgrim: his heart.

I have spent my life trying to learn the universal language of humanity, stammering about fraternity, justice, peace, liberty, dignity and joy. Even at this point in my life I am unable to communicate with clarity and ease.

I’ve yet to master the rules of grammar inscribed in the heart of the human race I am immersed in. As I attempt to spell out my existence, I continue to make mistakes which prevent me from successfully completing the basics in the school of life. Perhaps by the time I am considered well-learned I will be nearing the end of my earthly journey.

The faith of my parents gave me the right to a homeland which reaches beyond the limits of political geography. I have come to know this land bit by bit and have marveled at its riches. The common tongue spoken there is love and everyone speaks with an accent determined by the linguistic skill of his or her heart.

I long to one day obtain citizenship from that universal nation. In order to do so I need to pass the humanity exam, I need to truly understand that each man and each woman in this world has a common origin and shares the same destiny.

Many experts in the laws of that country (the saints) have taught me by their lives about the benefits and duties granted to those who belong to that mysterious and alluring nation without frontiers. Millions of men and women throughout the centuries have built this great nation. They’ve opened new pathways of fraternity where only isolated wilderness existed. They’ve built bridges of hope that have admitted me and so many others to a greater knowledge of all of those who from a distance seemed like “strangers.”

The process to apply for citizenship to this indescribable homeland without boundaries obliges us as applicants to joyfully promote its greatness. It forces us to announce that this homeland with its vast subsoil of forgiveness is capable of freeing the countless millions oppressed beneath the weight of their errors. It compels us to proclaim that this captivating nation has extensive coastlines of justice that are so deep, treasures of human dignity unheard of until now are continually pulled from its depths.

Jesus Christ, the founder and supreme ruler of this ever-new homeland, pays the membership fee for all those who wish to freely apply for citizenship, and with the red ink of his heart he signs those documents without an expiration date.

Throughout the centuries, many millions of men and woman have acquired citizenship in that happy homeland with mysterious terrain. However, there are millions of others seeking entrance who ignore the great opportunities offered to them.

Those of us who possess a valid membership can help many others to discover that homeland and expedite the membership application process for them. Jesus Christ, the founder of this sweet nation without frontiers, demands one requirement for admission: to trust in his wisdom, to trust that he knows what each member needs in order to be happy, and he asks that each member communicate that same trust to other possible candidates.

All kinds of names stand out on the list of citizens belonging to that homeland, each so genuinely different from the others: Peter, John, Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Paul, Ignatius, Francis, Theresa, Catherine, Conchita and of course the most prominent and well-decorated citizen, Mary.

May Mary bring us to trustfully surrender ourselves to the founder of that great nation of saints, and may he sign in our hearts the document of permanent membership to his homeland.

This is an English translation of a column that originally appeared in Spanish in the October 2014 issue of NORTHWEST CATHOLIC.

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo

Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.
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Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., es obispo auxiliar de Seattle y vicario para el ministerio hispano.

Website: www.seattlearchdiocese.org/Archdiocese/auxiliaries.aspx