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Theology IV: Transforming the World with St.

Vincent de Paul [21]


Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

Code Number: TH221E

Course Title: “TRANSFORMING THE WORLD TOWARDS THE


REIGN OF GOD WITH ST. VINCENT DE PAUL”

CHAPTER II: CONTEMPORARY HUMAN MOBILITY: “ZEAL”


FOR THE MIGRANTS AND FAMILIES LEFT BEHIND

INTRODUCTION:

In our previous lesson or topic we identified the issues or problems we are


facing today—political, moral, ecological, economic etc. Here in our second topic
we shall deal on the issues on migration.

OBJECTIVES: At the end of the lesson the students is be able to:

• Critically analyze the factors affecting human mobility or migration


• To design a small project that will show concern for the migrants’ families
who are left behind.

Let Us “SEE”

Activity:

Read:

Questions:

1) According to the essay, what are some of the reasons why people migrate
to other places or countries? Explain briefly. Which of these reasons
explain the experience of a member of your family, a relative, or a
neighbor? What is the social situation of his/her family that led him/her
to work in another country?

2) Enumerate some of the effects or impacts of migration as discussed in the


essay. Which of these do you see in the person you know who migrated to
other countries for work? What has been his/her experience and its effects

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Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

on him/her and the family he/she has left behind? What other effects to
you see that are not discussed in the essay. Explain.

3) Asia has distinct characteristics when it comes to migration. What did the
author say are the patterns or trends in Asian migration? Do you also see
these patterns or trends? Explain your own observations.

Synthesis of the activity…

Every one of us has experienced what it feels to be a “stranger”, in one


way or another, such as when we transfer residences, change jobs or move to one
place or another as part of our job, when entering a different place, and in the
many ordinary events, wherein we are the “other” such as in social parties,
meeting new acquaintances, even in markets, transport stations, churches, so
forth.

A migrant is an individual or groups who leave their places of birth for


other countries to find work. All of us have our own stories to share being a
“migrant”. We have been in a migration-like situation, such as transferring
residences, changing jobs as a tourist or whenever or wherever we are in a
different space. It is typically associated with the search for a better life; it is in
this sense a journey of hope.

Migration has permeated the Filipino life. In fact, our country is now the
leading origin country of overseas migrant. In the latest survey there are about
10.4 billion overseas labor-migrants, settlers, and irregular migrants in over-200
countries, territories and ocean-plying vessels. This huge number of migrants
produces billon of pesos remittances to our country.

One of the major beneficiaries of overseas migration is that universities.


The economic status is the main reason why people migrate because of wanting
to invest for the future of the family—a journey of hope in searching for a better
life.

Migration is both a blessing and a curse—since it has a social, emotional


effect to both parents abroad and children left behind. Studies show that
overseas migration has both positive and negative impact. The positive very
significant and appreciated at the household level the economic impact of the
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Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

remittances. Remittances typically used by the families to buy land,


build/renovate houses, send family members to a good school, investment and
other more.

However, on the other side, while family of a labor-migrant enjoying the


remittances, negative impacts opens up to a serious concern of our country or
even within the family—welfare of the migrants (women), national identity,
growing materialism and fears about stability and welfare of the family.

Some negative impacts

1. In the absence of men, women who are left behind women initially fell
burdened by added duties and responsibilities of supposed for men.
2. In the absence of women, invited much speculation about the many
adverse consequences that could befall the family, especially the
children. Most of the time, while women are abroad men wasting the
hard-earned money and more so resulted to infidelity of men.
3. Children left-behind, economic gain of the parent contributed to the
positive outcomes to the children left behind. But, there are also an
emotional cost borne by the children and migrant parents.

It is in this age of migration, that we are all challenge to how we can be of


help to the children left behind—victims of the negative impact of global
migration.

Let us “DISCERN”

BIBLICAL AND THEOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS:

A. God: Creator of space and whose divine presence is thoroughly


inclusive, existential and experiential.

Central to the Christian Faith is the fundamental horizon of a God


with us. Ruah is one of the many ways to speak about God’s creative
presence and activity in creation. Literally, ruah is blowing wind, a stream
of air, or breath in motion. In Hebrew Bible, Ruah is the Divine Spirit who
creates, sustains and guides all things

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Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

In the reflections of Israel, God was, is and will forever be with


them, giving hope and encouragement in a troubled world, fulfilling
divine fidelity to the promise of shalom.

In our Theology 1 lessons, particularly on the topic Revelation-


Faith , we have learned that symbols or metaphors were used to address
the Divine presence. And one of the significant learning that we have was
that, God has no gender. We may use either HE/SHE. God can be address
as a father, mother, husband, female beloved, companion, friend, etc.

God’s free and unwavering presence coaches us that the divinizing


presence is thoroughly inclusive, existential and experiential. When we
say God is present, that presence is God; when God acts, that action is
God. And He/She actively present even in the most unexpected, unusual
and unfamiliar spaces. The divinizing presence is felt and known in the
ordinary, everyday events of life. There is no other way but in the
ordinariness of life where the “extra” is experienced, known and praised
as well. .

B. Creation or the World: the place where God reveals and saves in, other
words, God’s home and humanity’s homing to be home.

The reason why God cannot, does not, and will not abandon
humanity and the whole of God’s creation, is because it is His/Her home.
The Hebrew verb shakhan,” to dwell”, is at the root of shekinah, literally
meaning the “dwelling” and “the one who dwells”. As used in the Bible,
shekinah speaks of God’s dwelling among people (confer Ex.25:8; 29-45-
46). Shekinah then is another word for God..

“Household” is a cognate concept for dwelling. It is from the


experience of the household that Israel constructed its communal self-
definition as People of God.” The words “home” and “homing” are the
metaphors used in understanding and speaking about the relationship of
God and humanity and among all beings in creation, including humans
and the natural environment. Home, speaks of destination, a place of rest,
and a base for living. It is both a physical and an experiential concept.
Homing- conveys seeking or questing. Going home, finding a home,

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Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

making a home, coming home and arriving home point to homing as a


process.

The whole creation is not only God’s gracious gift; it is also God’s
home. To speak of God’s relational and gracious presence means that God
is home in a historical, concrete, particular, phenomenal way. From a
human standpoint, God’s home is not only thoroughly inclusive,
existential and experiential but profoundly temporal, spatial and relative
as well. In this perspective we can understand the exilic struggles of Israel
and the plight of the forsaken and strangers in Israel’s history in terms of
the aspiration for home and the imperative of embarking on a journey
towards home.

The Scriptures take “land” as the tangible, physical data where


God’s action of homing takes place amidst contestation among human
beings.

Its significance for us here is, creation belongs to God, and that
includes the land humans use and dwell in. In other words, humans are
just inhabitants in the land and they are just passing through; land is
God’s own and God is the host who welcomes people, cultures and
societies. In this land, the diverse and often conflicting guests are
demanded to behave properly so that all beings, humans and nature
included, will be at home in God’s dwelling.

C. Jesus of Nazareth: God’s carrier of universal presence and humanity’s


compassionate companion.

The presence of God in the world is not passive. What is


experienced as revelatory presence of God is a salvation encounters with
God. In our Theology 2 we have learned that, we not only have a body but
we are our body. The materiality of ourselves is the mediation through
which God makes Himself/Herself present and through which we sense
God’s presence at the “heart of the matter”. For the Christians, Jesus is the
human embodiment of God’s presence in the world leading the creation to
its homecoming.

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Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

Jesus demonstrated God’s universal offer of life by being a gracious


friend to all, regardless of culture, ethnicity, gender, religion and social
status but especially the outcast, poor, sinners, weak and victims of
injustice.

In a society characterized by boundaries of differences in terms of


social grouping, status, ranking and those who are “out of place” treated
with apathy if not antagonism. Jesus reached out to the marginal of his
time, and many sought him out. There is a great deal of crossing and
revising of boundaries in Jesus’ ministry that eventually led to his death.
Situated in a sacred place (synagogue) and sacred time (Sabbath), Jesus
interpreted the social norms by restoring the bodily health(that is the
whole person) of a man with a withered hand.

In Albert Nolan’s analysis(1976:20-42), the restoration to health


takes significance in a time and place where illness in various forms is not
only physical but tied up to economic, religious, social and moral spheres.
In short, we have a person short, we have a person whose body is absent
because his bodily sickness prohibits him from working and earning a
living. His sickness is also attributed to the sins of his family.
Consequently, he has few friends, if any, and he is subject to exclusion
from the circles of “able-bodied” ( thus socially ostracized and alienated).

Jesus crossed the boundaries that exclude and kill, and turned to
the sick person with a life-giving, saving word: “Come forward!” or
“Stand in the center!”The rejected comes forward, the marginal stands in
the center! At stake for Jesus is the sphere of God’s reign, which is non-
geographical but a social body, in which inclusion of the “least” and
respect for the “different other” are seeds of a new social order.

Jesus ate with the people. Some people accused him of being a
glutton & a drunkard. Whether Jesus was a guest or host, Jesus displayed
warm hospitality. Healing is not only physical it is intrinsically bound to
forgiveness and giving preference to the poor and outcast in God’s reign.

“Making a place for hospitality is not only about creating or


transforming a physical environment to make room for a few extra
people. The human relationships and commitments that shape the setting
affect whether it is or is not welcoming.”(Pohl, 1999:151)
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Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

The many stories about Jesus inform us how this “marginal Jew”
exploited physical boundaries and social thresholds as settings of
hospitality. Jesus transformed the boundaries that divide people into
“debatable spaces” where conflicts are resolved. In a society or culture
where social relationship and moral norms are strictly bound, Jesus’
hospitality takes a subversive character because it was the socially
undervalued people who experienced his power as a restoration of
dignity and a sense of recognition. Healing, forgiveness, acceptance,
respect, honor are the consequences of Jesus’ action. In Jesus, humanity se
glimpses of the possibilities and opportunities of what they could fully
become.

D. The church or community of disciples: Christ bridge of solidarity in the


world.

Jesus demonstrated God’s care to those who are afraid, troubled


and excluded because of fear of crossing a new boundary or because of
the structures of society that make people feel that they are outsiders.
Jesus offered His body to accompany people. He challenged His disciples
to do the same that is to offer their hearts of compassion and hands of
solidarity.

Jesus’ challenge to those in dominant and centrist position is also


brought to his community of disciples. Jesus is most critical of his disciples
in terms of the way they act in and out of boundaries. In terms of theme &
space in the fourth gospel strongly suggest two important things:

1. The key issue in the Johannine communities is not its geographical


location or social space. It is a question of how the disciples position
their selves with Jesus not in terms of following but the kind of
participation in Jesus’ cause.
2. Jesus’ group is called ”house””household” and “temple”, in the sense
of a fluid space, instead of a fixed sacred place. Whenever the disciples
gather anywhere and seek to follow Jesus “in” the world there the
“sacred space”. In the synagogue, the disciples experience rejection,
hatred and excommunication, In Jesus’ fellowship; it is and must be
different.
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Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

In Christoph Schwobel’s expression (2000:108-123), “the church


therefore appears like a bridge stretching between the life, death and
resurrection of Christ and the time when it cries of ‘Maranatha’ come,
Lord Jesus.

It is in this perspective that the community of Jesus’ disciples is a


cultural space and a creator of space as well as for the conversations on
life. By conversation, is meant real encounter between humans, not only in
words but also in their actions. Schwobel’s (2000) metaphor of bridge for
the church is speaking about the mission of Jesus bequeathed to his
followers.

Once again, let us try to look at the function of a bridge according


to Filipino theologian Emmanuel S. de Guzman. In everyday life, a bridge
is a physical structure built over a river or land that allows people or
vehicles to cross from one side to another and it also serves as a
connecting route between two geographical points or adjacent elements in
order to reduce differences of time, distance, or human contexts.

In a symbolical way, bridges offer people a way to cross


geographical, social, economic, political, cultural and religious
boundaries. It can be a space for crossing boundaries and constructing
new boundaries. What divides people may find in the bridge a space to
talk about differences or to form new perceptions and understanding of
others and lessen the conflicts.

The bridge is a space, to use Walter Vogel’s wisdom (2002:166),


where people wash their feet and offer drink, food and shelter to one
another. In human relationships, the bridge is the person or group who
acts as a go-between. When Filipinos want to communicate with one
another esp. between people of different status, they sometimes use a
third party who is familiar with the concerned parties. This bridge serves
many functions, such as conveying messages, negotiating, facilitating,
trouble shooting and even settling disputes and reconciling.

A go-between is approached not only because of her competence to


do things, but because he/she possesses appealing and trustworthy
qualities which make others approach him or her in the first place. A go—

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between is gracious and has the ability to persuade others in order to


influence the course of action that benefits all parties.

In our discussion above remember that most of us if not all feels


how to be a stranger, from our everyday then, we know what a migrant
feels. Recognizing our own strangeness in a “multi-contextual setting”, in
the bridge of solidarity, the category of “native fades away” because all of
us are “native” to our own social locations (De Guzman, 2004:144). The
acknowledgement of cultural rootedness has an equalizing power,
whereby on the bridge engages in a relationship that is mutually enriching
and transforming.

In the footstep of the marginal Jew from Nazareth, and of marginal


others in our time space-givers are also required to extend empathy and
compassion to the migrants.

A. Teachings of the Church on Migration

The universal church teachings and concern for migrants came up


only at the onset of the second half of the 19th century, the time when the
church was challenged with the massive migrations from Europe to
Americas. Triggered by the “Industrial Revolution” the church caught
them unprepared to take any considerable action or say anything at all on
the particular matter.

However, due to the insistent cry of some groups of migrants in


Americas asking for spiritual assistance moved the Holy See to give more
attention to the massive exodus of the Europeans. US Bishops then,
gathered in Rome on 1883 and decided to establish national or ethnic
parishes for the majority. The decision was ratified by the third council of
Baltimore, in 1884, whose final document dedicated an entire chapter on
migrants: Coloniset Avenis (Setters and Newcomers)—they clarified that
the church must take care of migrants: “they are…Matris Ecclesiae Filii
(children of the Mother Church)”, and they…should be welcomed because
of the explicit commandment in the Holy Scripture:“Love the foreigner, for
you were a foreigner yourself’ and “I was a stranger and you welcomed me”.

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Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

In spirit of renewal and updating, in 1969 gave birth to a new


document on migration De Pastorali Migratorum Cura (On the Pastoral
Care of Migrants) by which introduced by Pope Paul VI, that urged to
review the methods of pastoral care of migrants due to increasing number
of migration. The document reaffirmed some essential human rights; the
right to home country, to migrate and the right to preserve one’s native
and culture. It further clarified the competence of the Office for Migrants
within the Congregation of Bishops—dictates and specifies the duties and
faculties as a chaplain or missionaries for migrants and as well
recognizing the cooperation/ involvement of both religious men/women
and lay people in the care of migrants.

In 1970, Pope Paul VI launched the Pontifical Commission for the


Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. The commission started to
work on a new document in 1978, Chiesa e mobile taumana (Church and
Human Mobility).

This document is composed of three main parts. First part


dedicated to an exhaustive description of the phenomenon of migration in
the modern context. Second part is on the theoretical description of the
attitude of the Church. The last part presents some practical principle of
the pastoral care of migrants such special responsibility of all
faithful/laypeople in the mission among migrants, the role of the
commission on migrants and itinerant people and the importance of
interdisciplinary studies on migration in order to better understand the
problems and be more proactive in their solutions.

In 2004, after 26 years, instruction Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi


presented by the commission, redefined the answer of the Church to a
major challenge on rapid changes that occurred in the world of migration.

The first part of the document first part of the document stresses
that migration as “signs of times” and ‘concern of the church”. It
introduces biblical and theological considerations which constitute the
fundamental of the concern of the church on migration—Christ the
“foreigner” and Mary as living symbols of the migrant. The second part
presented “welcome” and “solidarity” as the main values of the pastoral
care of migrants in modern times. It stresses also the importance and

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Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

special attention to the religious differentiations of the migrants. Thus,


interreligious dialogue, inculturation is not an option. Third part presents
the call to be agents of pastoral work based on communion in both the
sending and receiving Churches. And the last part listed the pastoral
structures supposed to address the challenge by the ideal of unity and
diversity.

Let us “ACT”

ATTITUDES TOWARDS HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS:

1. Recognize respective particular cultural locations so that we can accept


that we are also the “other” in the eyes of migrants or the “other”.
2. Accompaniment- being present among the migrant crossers, in times of
fear and trouble as well as in moments of joy and celebration, so they may
experience a hospitable place. To walk with another side by side,
sometimes to walk ahead and sometimes to walk behind, learning when
and how to hold another’s hands and learning when and how to let go of
those hands but always with great concern for the wellbeing of the other
that he or she may successfully cross cultures and economies.
3. Create a hospitable place- a place where people flourish, a place that offers
a shelter of relationships and provides a sense of personal and communal
space. In a hospitable place, life is celebrated, yet it also has room for
brokenness and deep disappointments. Hospitable spaces should also be
alive with particular commitments and practices but in which guests are
not coerced into sharing them. In matters of religious faith, true welcome
does not violate the stranger’s identity and integrity. Christian groups and
communities that offer hospitality allow room for friendship to grow, of
which food, shelter and companionship are all interrelated in these
settings. Hospitable places, in other words, are “graced shelters where life,
the world, and God can be trusted, and where human existence has
meaning and gracious.(see Caron,2005)

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Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

SPECIFIC ROLES OR TASK FOR CHRISTIANS AS SPACE-GIVERS ON


THE BRIDGE OF SOLIDARITY:

1. On the bridge, there is the ministry of exciting storytelling.


- Amidst the loneliness, worries and anxieties of migrants and
their families, we create space for people to share their stories of
life. For migrants who are Christians, their stories are linked to
the stories of and about Jesus of Nazareth, so that they may be
inspired to do things that are life-giving.
2. On the bridge, there is the ministry of comforting listening.
- Lending a comforting ear to the struggles, difficulties and
problems of the migrants and their families.
3. On the bridge, there is the ministry of itinerant preaching.
- This preaching takes the written word of God as source of
consolation and encouragement for discipleship today.
- Christians can help in creating opportunities for those who wish
to participate in prayer meetings, Bible reflections, Bible study
groups.
4. On the bridge, there is the ministry of gracious accommodation.
- This entails giving directions, introducing to contacts, attending
to them, inviting them to homes for meals and other
celebrations.
5. On the bridge, there is the ministry of joyful healing.
- Encourage them
6. On the bridge, there is the ministry of prophetic action.
- Appreciating what is good and life-giving and criticizing &
denouncing what is bad.
- Taking actions that benefit those who are suffering, women and
children.
7. On the bridge, there is the ministry of refreshing table fellowship.
- Nurturing personal and communal life through table
fellowships like the Eucharist, communal cultural and religious
activities.
8. On the bridge, there is the ministry of fervent eyewitness.
- Ministry as attentive eyewitness sounds the alarm to make
people aware of the negative things that may come their way.

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Chapter 2: Topic 2: Contemporary Human Mobility: “ZEAL” for Migrants and Families Left Behind

9. On the bridge, there is the ministry of patient guide.


- Accompanying people and being patient in following the pace
and process of the migrant.
- They have the sense of dignity and security in communion with
others.
10. On the bridge, there is the ministry of empowering the space-givers.
- Standing before and on behalf of the community, and
empowering others to use their God-given charisms.

Small Group Project.

Develop/design a small project that will show our concern for FAMILIES
LEFT BEHIND. For students who are migrants in the Philippines, their small
project is about how they can live a meaningful life as a migrant, or how they can
develop a healthy relationship with Filipinos or in their receiving society.

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