When I made my retreat at the Nogales border, one of my first conclusions was that that was a good place to make a Holy Week retreat. Being there suggested to me how it must have been to be in Jerusalem when Christ was crucified. That day I am sure that it seemed that evil was in control. God-made-man was nailed to a piece of wood and died the most shameful of deaths. We have learned to glorify the crucifixion but at that time it was how they eliminated the dregs of society.
The reality of the border is that there are two sides: one belongs to one group and the other to the other. There are guns and high-tech vigilance to make sure that neither goes to the other side without proper permission. The message is a very strong one: STAY AWAY. THIS IS MINE. Someone said to me that everything about the border is anti-Gospel. The prevailing spirit there is totally contrary to what Christ taught us. It’s not that there are bad people at the border, that the guards are mean or that there is a better way to do this. The problem is that it represents a whole system that is anti-evangelical. The basic conviction that everyone in this world is here to sink or swim on their own is simply not real, much less Christian. St. Ignatius invited us to consider the world as divided into two camps: one where evil reigns and the other the Kingdom of God. He called it the Meditation on the Two Standards. The border is the incarnation of what happens when we are not our brother’s keeper, a constant reminder that our world doesn’t work right. I make the fence a little higher every time I refuse to recognize and respond to the needs of those who are at my side. When you observe life at the border, there is no escaping the fact that evil is indeed alive and well.