The title of the address by Daniel Groody, CSC, at the Religious Formation Conference in Pittsburgh this past week was “Dying to Live: Migration, Religious Life and the Eucharist.” As he unfolded his comments, it was evident that he explained “migration” in its broadest sense. His description of the immigrant described not only those human beings who leave their home country for economic, violence related or internally displaced reasons. I determined that he was offering a “theology of migration” which was meant to address the crisis of the marginalized everywhere.
Fr. Groody indicated that a profound moment came in his early life as he dutifully studied theology from textbooks while a homeless man slept on a window ledge outside his basement apartment. Now he understands that experience and many others as “the encounter” that Pope Francis often repeats as he urges us “to go out to the peripheries, especially to the poor and marginalized, and encounter other persons.” Groody made the statement that he had cried twice as he viewed a pieta. He cried when he admired the carved masterpiece in Rome and then again when he witnessed a “pieta” of sorrowful women carved out of human suffering in a Syria refugee camp.
Migration is both incredibly complex and incredibly simple as Groody demonstrated throughout the session. It is complex because of the many facts and fears throughout the world and also simple because of the human/divine call “to love one another.” But he did add a touch of humor to the truth, when he cited a flyer that he had once seen that read “Did you know you could miss heaven by 18 inches. Eighteen inches is the distance from the head to the heart.” We laughed, but we realized the critical and essential meaning of his message. “The immigrant is a mirror of the human journey, a reflection of Christ and a challenge to human solidarity.”
One response to “Did You Know That You Could Miss Heaven by 18 Inches?”
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with all of usa in learning the distance from head to heart. A catchy title which drew me in; a beautiful meditation on missing the reality while learning from books. This was Fr. Groody’s experience, and you preached it even further in posting it on oppeace.org.