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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

466 Prodigal Love

Day 466 Friday, June 25th 2021

Prodigal Love

This Sunday, the 27th of June, we celebrate The Fatherhood of God with Jim Keck and JoAnn Consiglieri

Jim writes: Welcome. I would like to reflect with you this evening on our traditional title of God, the Father. Not to reject the concept of God as Mother. Just to go deeper into the fatherhood of God.

Let’s start with Jesus calling God “Father,” 65 times in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and more than 100 times in the Gospel of John. Was that historically conditioned? Yes, males ruled in His day. But Jesus broke that norm. He had women disciples, for example. He spoke with women in public. He even allowed women to be the first witnesses of His resurrection.

So what is Jesus trying to tell us about God as “Father”? We begin with God's relationship to creation. As the Creator, God is like a human father. A human father procreates a child distinct from and yet like himself.

Similarly, God creates things distinct from and like Himself. This is especially true of man, who is the "image of God." And God cares for His creation, especially man, as a human father cares for his children. God the Father is begetter, provider, teacher, and guardian.

But Jesus adds “Almighty Father” and “Father in heaven” meaning that unlike human fathers, with weakness and limited resources, God, the Father, can provide anything needed and offers unlimited love and protection.

Jesus goes on to call God “Abba” an Aramaic term of endearment, a more intimate term often used by children in the home. Our term “daddy” would be comparable.

Jesus becomes one of us to make us like himself, a child of the Father. And he models how we must act with all that love and protection.

Day 466 Friday, June 25th 2021:

Prodigal love as a mother reunites with her children:

(Yudissa hugs her son and daughter on Sunday in the airport in Tampa, Fla., where they reunited after years spent apart)

Walking through the Tampa airport Sunday, Yudissa stopped in her tracks. She barely recognized the young woman coming toward her.

Her daughter Jissel, now 15, was 12 when she hugged her goodbye at a Border Patrol facility in El Paso, Texas in 2018. That was before Yudissa was shackled around her ankles and loaded into a van with other migrant parents, told that she would be able to reunite with her daughter in two to three days after she had “served her sentence.”

Now, three years later, Yudissa and Jissel are one of about 30 families separated under the Trump administration that the Biden administration has been able to reunite this week, according to lawyers representing those families.

“I didn’t recognize her because I left behind a girl and I saw a woman,” Yudissa said.

In May 2018, border agents told Yudissa she would be sent to a facility separate from Jissel. She said they described it as part of her punishment for crossing the border illegally. She begged to be deported with her daughter back to Honduras.

“I asked if they could send me back in order to be reunited with my girl because I never thought that they were going to take her away from me. And they started to laugh, I told them to take me out of there, to send me back to where they had picked me up because I didn’t want them to take her away from me.”

She was sentenced by a judge to serve time in federal prison for crossing the border illegally.

She was detained with other mothers who had also been separated from their children after crossing the border. “We didn’t even know what was happening,” she said. “Not even the mothers because they would take their kids away and they would arrive one after another and one knew what was happening. Why couldn’t the kids be there?”

While in detention, she was given five minutes to talk to Jissel, she said, who was being held in a Health and Human Services center with other children who had been separated from their parents.

“Jissel was having nightmares. She would wake up crying in the morning,” Yudissa said. She eventually agreed to release Jissel to live with her father in Florida.

“I told him to come get her out, that it didn’t matter what would happen to me, but to take her out of there,” she said.

After prison and then months of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention, Yudissa was deported to Honduras. Jissel remained in the U.S. with her father and brother — the family members with whom Yudissa had hoped to reunite when she first left Honduras for the U.S.

“I was sad because they separated me from my mother,” said Jissel, “the hurt was most intense each time a birthday passed without her mother there.”

For Yudissa, missing her daughter’s early teenage years was also painful.

“I felt distressed more than anything,” Yudissa said. “It’s three years where a kid needs their mother most — more so with a girl. She was experiencing a lot of things that perhaps she was embarrassed to talk to her dad about.”

Yudissa said she missed her children not only on Christmas, but also many days. She said she spent a lot of days not sleeping, just thinking of when it might be possible to see her children again.

Then in January she received a call from an immigration attorney who told her she had a shot at reunification with Jissel and told her to get her passport ready because there was a possibility she could be allowed into the United States to see her family.

“Families that have been reunited are relying on their faith and on the Biden administration to ensure they are not separated again,” said Ann Garcia, Yudissa’s lawyer from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants’ Rights Project and one of the lawyers negotiating on behalf of separated families in a federal lawsuit, said the “negotiations are ongoing and are proceeding constructively and in good faith.”

“The very least our government can do now is to provide families with the right to remain here given that it was the U.S. government itself that deliberately subjected them to this barbaric practice,” Gelernt said.

Although “only a handful” of families have been reunited, Gelernt expects the pace to pick up soon.

Back in the Tampa airport, Yudissa and Jissel nervously approached each other, then tearfully embraced. The night before she was to see her mom, Jissel said she was nervous, but “happy because I was going to see her again.”

For Yudissa, the three years she spent apart from her family was “the worst thing someone could live through.”

By Tuesday, though, Yudissa and Jissel were happily reunited and making up for lost time in their hotel room in Tampa before traveling to live in temporary housing provided by a church in Orlando.

- a report by By Julia Ainsley and Didi Martinez

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