DACA, Discernment, and the Kingdom of Heaven

The Trump administration's announcement that it was rescinding the DACA program has certainly stoked our passion and brought back to life yet another national argument that seems to allow no room for discernment. We are in yet another game of tug-of-war in which one side must win and the other side must lose.

Pulling on one side of this rope are those who see DACA as a just response to the Gospel call to welcome the stranger, summed up nicely by Fr. James Martin, S.J.:

The other side of the rope in this tug-of-war are those who are concerned about the rule of law and the proper role of the executive and legislative branches as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. This view is clearly explained by House Speaker Paul Ryan:

“However well-intentioned, President Obama’s DACA program was a clear abuse of executive authority, an attempt to create law out of thin air. Just as the courts have already struck down similar Obama policy, this was never a viable long-term solution to this challenge. Congress writes laws, not the president, and ending this program fulfills a promise that President Trump made to restore the proper role of the executive and legislative branches. 

Does Jesus have open borders in Heaven?

What interests me is not which side is right or which side has more pull. Rather, I'm interested in a comment I saw on Twitter: "Does Jesus have open borders in Heaven?" Ultimately, this issue reflects our image of the Kingdom of Heaven and our image of God.

I invite you to spend some time reflecting on this tug-of-war, not to change your opinion or switch sides on the debate surrounding DACA. Rather, I invite you to use this time to reflect on what your image of God is and how this image helps--or prevents--you from loving God and neighbor.

Begin by centering yourself. Enter a prayerful stance, that is, position your body in a way that is comfortable and relaxing, but allows you to stay attentive. Focus on your breath for a few moments. Breath in God's grace. Breath out God's love. If you find thoughts competing for your attention, focus on your breathing and let the distraction float away on their own.

Imagine the borders of the Kingdom of Heaven. What do these "borders" look like? Who guards these borders? Where are the "border crossings"? Who is in line to cross the borders?

Imagine you are turned away at the border. How long have been waiting in line? What is your response to being turned away? Are you angry? Afraid? Confused? Do you make an appeal?

What does your exclusion tell you about God? What limits to God's mercy and compassion do you experience in being turned away at the borders to the Kingdom of Heaven? Where do these limits come from?

Remember that your image of god is not God. Surrender these limits that you have placed on God's mercy and compassion:

Let them turn to the Lord to find mercy;
    to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways,
    my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:7-9)

How is the God of mercy and compassion described by Isaiah different from the image of God who prevented you from entering the Kingdom of Heaven.

Return to the border crossing. But this time, imagine the borders were established by the God described in Isaiah. How is the border different than before? What happens when you approach this border?

Spend some time talking to Jesus about your experience. What does he tell you about the Kingdom of Heaven? What questions do you ask of him? What are is responses? Talk to Jesus as you would talk to your most intimate friend.

Close with the following prayer or one of your own choosing.

Heavenly Father, may your love, mercy, and compassion erase the division between heaven and earth and the divisions among the human family. Amen.