Reflection on the Third Station
By The Rev. David Chavez

Just to be clear, this is what happens when the way of love challenges the way of Empire. This is how Empire brands those who resist the impulse to conform, to acquiesce, to stay put, to exist within borders of control, to uphold arrangements that benefit some; to live in such a way that one never calls into question the powers-that-be with the power of love. When such branding, like a cross, is used to criminalize and dehumanize, it functions surreptitiously to justify the cruelty of a system that harbors the sentiment that “society must be defended” and in the same stroke perpetuates a social imaginary that fuels the idea of an impending danger that can only be staved off by fueling the allergic reaction to others—a strategy and message codified in logical, clear, coherent, and concise regulations and press releases.

And so Jesus and many a migrant fall under the weight of a branding meant to call into question their very worth as human beings, hermanas y hermanos, that we confess demonstrate and proclaim the image and love of God in real time. And so the Empire detains, disfigures, and isolates; it parades the criminalized and dehumanized in an effort to advance policies and practices of deterrence meant to quell the righteous impulse that fuels the visceral desire and risky journey toward liberation: an impulse rooted in the belief that every person harbors and deserves to live a life marked by dignity, safety, and justice.

And so, this is what it looks like to follow the way of love. It’s a call to stand with and fall with those who have been criminalized by a system too afraid to receive the gift of resistance to Empire, the gift of redemption from exploitation, the gift of renewal for the sake of a just, grace-filled, and welcoming abrazo. It looks like the kind of resistance that taunts the Empire as it insists that love is stronger than death, that the way of love is not rooted in an abuse of power nor the destruction of human dignity. It is a call to stand, fall, and go in the name of the one that showed us the way of love is the way of solidarity, mercy, and justice.

The Rev. David Ulloa Chavez serves as the Missioner of Border Ministries for the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona. Prior to serving as Missioner, Fr. David served as Priest-in-Charge of Iglesia Episcopal Santa Maria and as Curate of Hispanic Ministry at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Phoenix, Arizona. His service to the larger church includes being on the Advisory Council for the Hispanic Latino/a Ministries of The Episcopal Church and as a member of the anti-racism committee of the Diocese of Arizona. Fr. David is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary where he completed his Master of Divinity and Master of Theology.