Sunday, January 24, 2010

What is good news for the poor?

This Sunday, as usual, I went to Mass at St. Martin’s church up the hill from where I live. Padre Fausto Milla presided at Mass. The Gospel today was Luke 4, 14-21; Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth reads from Isaiah, what is his mission: “The Spirit of the Lord … has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.”

Padre Fausto gave a brief homily, which surprised me because the reading is so strong – good news for the poor, liberation for the oppressed. He did note the situation of oppression and asked what is good news for the poor.

I was surprised that he was so restrained – but it was because he had another “mass” - a meeting in Santa Rosa of the Resistance, in part to honor Argentina Valle, a congresswoman with the Resistance who removed her name from the November elections in opposition to the coup.

After going to the farmers’ market (Feria del Agricultor) I dropped by the site of the rally. There were about 150 to 200 people, not a large crowd.

Argentia Valle (left), Escarleth Romero (second from left), Padre Fausto (right)

Padre Fausto gave the invocation which he closed with the Lord’s Prayer. After the prayer was concluded he made a pointed remark on the phrase “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

“If someone steals my cow Saturday night,” he commented, “I have to forgive him – but he has to return my cow.”

Quite a pointed commentary on the talk about amnesty and reconciliation.

I ran across a few people I know – though I think most were from out of town. I talked for awhile with one young man whom I know from the Catholic University. He speaks a very broken English which he learned while doing construction work in the US. He returned to Honduras after an accident that left him with a back injury, which his employer did nothing to alleviate.

He remarked that there were few from the Catholic University – most of whom would be apolitical or supporters of the coup, since many come from families with money.

We talked about many different things, but I don’t know how many times he referred to “my country.” He is proud of Honduras – but, for him, the coup and those who support it are not “my country.” He and others are trying, I believe, to recover their country, to make it truly theirs.

He wants to work in politics, he told me. (His father knows and worked with Argentina Valle.) But it’s something he wants to do for the poor and with them.

Isn’t his motivation good news for the poor?

I left early – partly because I had forgotten my hat and the sun was very strong. When I got back it was ending. Andres Pavón, president of CODEH, the Human Rights Defense Committee, had spoken, as well as Argentina Valle and Padre Fausto.

This week I took part in the diocesan pastoral council meeting since Padre Efraín, the director of Caritas and the head of the Social Ministry of the diocese, had a meeting on the mining issue with the Caritas offices of the other dioceses of Honduras.

I was very happy to able to share with them that the diocese received a $15,000 grant from the Latin American office of US Conference of Catholic Bishops. We will be having three sets of workshops for leaders in the diocese on Catholic social teaching. There will be three sessions for the lay leaders of the seven deaneries of the diocese who will then repeat the workshops in their deaneries for three leaders from every parish.

This should start in May. I will be working on this with several other folks in the diocese. We will also be working on a booklet to be used by the church base communities on Catholic Social Teaching in their weekly meetings. In this way we hope that Catholic Social teaching will penetrate to the church base communities in the remotest villages of the diocese.

That, I pray, will be good news for the poor.


Rey said...

Hola Juancito estoy leyendo su block sobre el evento en la resistencia en NC el martes estare en Washington. Excelente reporte. Saludos Salomon

tejasjeff said...

What is the significance of the flag on the right?
What do the initials stand for and who's profile is on it?
Thank You.

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

The flag on the right is from the Resistance. The initial mean, I believe, Frente Nacional de la Resistencia Popular - the National Front for the people's/popular resistence. I believe that the image is of one of the founders of Honduras and proponent of Central American union in the 19th century - Francisco Morazan.

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

Charles sent me this comment - worth thinking through:

Brother John quotes Padre Fausto, "If someone steals my cow Saturday night,” he commented, “I have to forgive him – but he has to return my cow.”

Restorative justice is an excellent sentiment, but I don't think it's scriptural. How many times must I forgive my brother if he sins against me? Seventy times seven, says Jesus in Matthew. And then he tells the story of the forgiven servant who refused to forgive.

This is one of the troubling parts of the gospel. How can I find it in my heart to forgive someone even as he is inflicting pain on me? If we have managed to reduce our own importance to the point that we are merely a window through which the light of God shines, it is possible... but in demanding this of us, God asks a great deal. As much as becoming small enough to pass through the eye of a needle.