A Circle That Excludes No One

Meghan Clark writes:

Consider, for example, the rose window: a massive, intricate mixture of colors and shapes all forming a singular circle. For its creators the rose window was not just art but a symbol of mathematical perfection. The circle is a shape with no beginning and no end, intended to draw our imagination into contemplating the perfection of God. This paradigmatic medieval symbol of God’s transcendence is also a vehicle for contemplating our humanity and the immanence of God.

The circle is the shape we often use to situate our network of human relationships—our circle of friends. In describing solidarity and the call to be one human family, Jesuit Father Greg Boyle asks us to “imagine a circle of kinship and now imagine no one is outside of that circle.” Reflecting on the rose window with its intricate unity in diversity leads me to the immanence of God in the incarnation and today, to the vulnerability of migrants so often left out of that circle.

As Christians, we are called to live lives of discipleship and to more fully be the people of God in the world. In Lumen Gentium (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), the unity of the people of God does not have borders. Can we imagine a world in which no one is left out of our circle of concern? Borderland faith communities are living out this vision of kinship and discipleship every day. In dynamic communities like El Paso, Texas and Juárez, Mexico, families and faith communities struggle against borders that exclude people from the circle. Bishop Mark J. Seitz and the Hope Border Institute concretely demonstrated this by traveling to Guatemala to visit the families of Jakelin Caal Maquin and Felipe Gomez Alonzo, children who died in U.S. custody in El Paso….

As I think back to Notre-Dame and its iconic rose window, transcendence and immanence come together in its circle. For me, the circle is no longer a symbol of mathematical perfection but of Jesus’ prayer “that they may be one as we are one.” And so we are called, in humility, to see the sacred in every person, and every circle, and to be one in kinship.