Bridging Borders: Acting in love rooted in justice

Bridging Borders: Acting in love rooted in justice

By Pieter Niemeyer

Pope Francis’s appeal “not to create walls but to build bridges” is at the heart of Canadian Jesuits International’s 2018 Giving Tuesday Campaign.

When we decided on our theme “Bridging Borders” the human caravan currently en route from Central America to the United States was not on our radar, but it seems that the work of the Spirit was at play in our planning. That shouldn’t be surprising because God is the originator of bridging borders of all kinds.

Fr Mario Serrano speaking at a Bridging Borders event in Toronto. (Photo: C. Hincks/CJI)

All too often fear and suspicion of the “other” is a prominent feature of our current social and political discourse, locally and around the world. Fear is at the heart of these human-imposed borders. However, people of faith are encouraged to not operate out of fear. The message of the Spirit is, and always has been and will always be: “Do not be afraid!” Why? Because as the Gospels remind us we have good news to receive —­ love. Love is the primary catalyst by which to bridge borders, and it began with God.

It is from this place of love that Father Mario Serrano, one of our guest speakers for the CJI Giving Tuesday campaign, challenged our audiences with a threefold message: open our eyes, open our hearts, and then act in love. Act in a way that moves us beyond just the realm of charity, toward structural change rooted in justice. Fr Mario invited us to open our eyes to see injustice going on around us and in the world and not to be distracted by the myriad of things that would prevent us from seeing our responsibilities as they relate to matters of justice.

It is a profound spiritual exercise to allow our eyes to be opened, our hearts to be opened and to respond in love. Our Bridging Borders campaign seeks to raise awareness (open eyes and hearts) and invite a response of action rooted in love that seeks to bring about structural change for the common good.

We are grateful to the many people who have responded to support the projects of our partners in the Global South who inhabit the spirit of “bridging borders.”

Fr Nawras Sammour speaking at a Bridging Borders event in Vancouver. (Photo: Sammy Tong)

  • The Pan-Amazon project in Latin America is working for structural change by amplifying the voices of indigenous communities and building upon indigenous knowledge and wisdom for sustainable development of the shared Amazon region.
  • Lok Manch in India is empowering marginalized communities through awareness-raising of rights and responsibilities.
  • The Support for Families in Damascus program, is one that reflects the larger work of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) across Syria and that serves people in need regardless of background or religion. The volunteers that serve with JRS also reflect the diversity of people within Syria.

Each of the three projects we highlighted in our campaign seeks to bridge borders both literal and metaphorical that promote human connection and build a culture of solidarity, awareness, justice and care for our common home.

From all of us at CJI and on behalf of our partners we wish to thank you and may you be blessed in your journey with open eyes and hearts as you respond with acts of love that work toward structural change rooted in justice. Peace be with you.


This article first appeared on the igNation website on 28 November 2018. It was the fifth in a series of five articles written for CJI’s Bridging Borders campaign. Pieter Niemeyer is Outreach Coordinator at Canadian Jesuits International.

(Banner photo by Sammy Tong: Vancouver youth at event with Fr Nawras)