Today, on Good Friday, Christians around the globe will gather in their houses of worship to remember the crucifixion of Jesus. Here in Tucson, people of faith will remember our migrant siblings who continue to be “crucified” by our border enforcement policies. We journey into the desert, following the cross, because as liberation theologian Jon Sobrino reminds us, “The cross of Jesus points us to the crosses that exist today.”
On this holy day, we remember the one who was left for dead, abandoned to languish in the hot sun, who cried out in the anguish of godforsakenness, “I thirst.” On this holy day, we remember those who cross our desert who are also left for dead, abandoned to languish in the hot sun, and who cry out in the anguish of godforsakenness, “I thirst.”
On this holy day, we remember Christ, a man wrongly accused. In the words of Presbyterian tradition, “Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition, Jesus was crucified, suffering the depths of human pain and giving his life for the sins of the world.”
We remember the one who was persecuted for his revolutionary work of bringing the abundant life of God’s reign to those who needed it most, the outcast and downtrodden.
Christ’s ministry of feeding, healing, and exorcizing those who were starving, sick, and oppressed was such a threat to the established order that he was put on trial and executed by the state. On this holy day, we remember the ways those who provide humanitarian aid to their fellow human beings crossing the desert are being unjustly persecuted for their work of bringing the abundant life of God’s reign to those who need it most, the migrants and refugees in our desert.
It is clear to us that the work of humanitarian aid is a similar threat to the status quo of border militarization and criminalization of migration. This is why No More Death’s volunteers like Scott Warren have been put on trial.
And so, on this holy day, we are compelled to not only to kneel at the cross of Christ but also to stand up and work for an end to the death and suffering on our border.
We must stand with those being persecuted for their humanitarian work. We must stand against this administration’s attempts to further militarize our border, or to shut down the border all together.
We must stand against attempts to keep asylum seekers in detention for longer periods of time, and to speed up the process of deportation, thereby denying due process to asylum-seekers.
We must stand with Scott Warren and demand that prosecutors drop the charges against him — charges that are clearly in retaliation for the report released by No More Deaths which exposed the way in which Border Patrol agents routinely destroy humanitarian aid.
We must join the rising chorus of voices in our communities asserting that humanitarian aid is never a crime, but rather always an act of faith and moral conviction.
As people of faith, we know the story of Jesus does not end on Good Friday. The story does not end in death and in suffering, but in God’s triumph of life over death, love over hate, hope over despair.
In the same way, we believe that while some have attempted to manipulate our beautiful desert into a weapon of death, one day soon it will shake itself loose from the shackles of walls, drones, and concertina wire and in the words of Isaiah, “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall blossom... and rejoice with joy and singing.”