Endless Exodus, Take One

Thanks to one candidate for the president of the United States, the issue of undocumented migrants has become a central issue in campaign for the White House in 2016. The debate has turned ugly, vitriolic, and mean-spirited. It prompted me to look the script for a film I wrote and directed in 2004 which focused on the plight of undocumented migrants. Titled Endless Exodus, the film explored how we can learn to see the face of Christ in the face of the migrant coming to the US in search of a better life. Making the film was a real eye-opener for me, and taught me more than just about any other film I’ve made. I filmed in Mexico and El Salvador, as well as in Arizona and California. Over the next few blog postings, I will share little snippets of my narration from Endless Exodus, which is still available on DVD from Pax et Bonum Communications. Here are the first selection of quotations.

Migration is part of the very fabric of human life and has been so throughout human history. Escaping poverty is one of the main reasons people migrate. Globally more than 1.5 billion people are forced to subsist on less than a dollar a day. Every year some six million kids will die of illnesses that are directly or indirectly attributable to malnutrition. Such conditions are what push people to migrate, to leave their homes and even their families behind for a more dignified life…or even more basically—a chance to survive. Today more than 100 million people are migrating around the world.

The story of the migrant is ripe with biblical symbolism. The story of the Exodus and the passion of Christ are at the core of migrant spirituality. The story of Exodus is a story of liberation and journey to the Promised Land. The way of the cross is a journey that reminds us that Jesus is with us in our most difficult times. The road to the resurrection goes through the desert, through the cross. Christ asks for conversion every day, that every day we surrender more of ourselves to the all-embracing love of God. This is hard, very hard indeed. I need to reject the false security I seek, and accept my inability to control the future. The truth is we are all migrants, we are all poor…we just don’t see it.

In the face and presence of the poor we can learn to see the face and presence of Christ. God is at home among the poor. Jesus was born in the midst of their poverty and rejection. Like the poor and oppressed, Jesus was despised and rejected. Like the poor and oppressed, Jesus was hungry and discouraged. Jesus did not come as a royal ruler, as king of the universe. He was born into poverty and lived among the poor. He was an outcast, living among outcasts, living among people with no privilege or rights. His message was so radical, so unsettling, he was quickly put to death for threatening to turn the established power structure upside down.


1 Response to “Endless Exodus, Take One”

  1. 1 krebsjoan August 23, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks Gerry. I was with a group of 8 women yesterday. Some have worked for years as a prayer support when locally detained families were herded onto buses to be returned wherever…. Three others seem to have fallen into the chauvinism growing in our country. While we were together nothing came up in conversation, but when we left (I was informed) these three remained for a bit to convey to each other how they are “for” Trump as candidate b-cuz he is opposed to conferring citizenship on babies of migrants born here. This reminds me of the early 20th century worry about the Yellow Menace. I was amazed but also a bit enlightened as to why some women would even consider a vote going his way….

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