Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mel arrived - but the Reign of God?

Saturday, May 28, former Honduran president Mel Zelaya, returned,  twenty-three months after the coup that had him arrested and sent out of the country. His return, orchestrated with the current president Pepe Lobo, will probably allow Honduras to return to the Organization of American States and open up more opportunities for the government to get foreign assistance.

He was due to arrive at 11 am but his plane didn’t touch down until 2:35 pm. A large crowd gathered near the airport.

I listened to part of the events on the radio and even watched, for a while, a streaming of the events on TV Globo on the internet. I didn’t hear Zelaya’s speech because I had to go to a rural village for a video festival, part of a Caritas project.

One remark of Zelaya’s I did read reflects what many people I know believe, “The problem of poverty, of corruption, of the great challenges in Latin American societies won’t be resolved through violence, but through more democracy.” I have seen the expansion of democracy in some of the Caritas projects on governance and democracy.

But I want to comment on the opening event, a Mass in the plaza celebrated by Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos, the bishop of Santa Rosa de Copán.

Photo from the El Tiempo AFP article

I missed most of the homily – though I heard Monseñor’s strong words against mining at the end of the homily. A few reports I read indicate that he gave a very prophetic sermon that included these very strong remarks.
Don’t forget that Honduras is dominated by a foreign power – the imperialism of the United States.

We Catholics will not  join up with the “white shirts” [those who marched against Zelaya and supported the coup] who try to place God as a shield in regard to things that cannot be defended.

The church is not with the coup.

The oligarchy wants to say that the people is just a few. They want to take control of all the goods which Honduras has, and for this they have been blinded so as not to leave the people of God in liberty.
Strong words, but to the point, I believe.

But what really impressed me were the songs that were used at the Mass, mostly from the Salvadoran and Nicaraguan campesino Masses. Watching the internet streaming I realized that the singing was being led by Padre Efraín Romero, the director of Caritas Santa Rosa and pastor of Dulce Nombre de María parish – my “boss.” Here are a few of the lyrics:

    Cristo, Cristo, Jesús identifícate con nosotros
Christ Jesus, identify with us
Lord, my God, identify with us
Christ Jesus, be in solidarity with us
not with the class of oppressors
who squeeze and devour the community,
but with the oppressed people
with the people who are united, thirsting for peace.
During the sharing of the greeting of peace, I was surprised to hear them sing: “No basta rezar” which comes from the Venezuelan group, Los Guaraguaos:
It’s not enough to pray.
Many things are lacking
to obtain peace.
They pray in good faith and heart
but the pilot also prays
when he gets into his plane
to bomb the children of Vietnam.
In the world there will not be peace
while one person exploits another
and inequality continues.
Nothing can be accomplished
is there is not revolution.
The rich man prays, the taskmaster prays
and they mistreat the peasant.
The Communion was a medley of some traditional hymns, but the one that struck me was “Nadie hay tan grande como tu  Señor.”
It starts out very traditionally:
“There is no one as great as you…
Who can do such marvels as you.”
But the verses are strong:
“Not with force, nor with violence,
will the world change,
but only love will change it.
“Not with weapons nor with war,
will the world change
Only love will change it.”
The closing was one of my favorites: Cuando el pobre crea en el pobre.
When the poor believe in the poor
we can already sing, “Freedom.”
When the poor believe in the poor,
we will build fraternity

We all commit ourselves
in the table of the Lord
to build Love in this world.
By struggling for our brothers [and sisters]
we make community.
Christ lives in solidarity.

When the poor seeks the poor
and organization is born
that’s who our liberation begins.
When the poor announce to the poor
the hope which He gave us
and his Reign has been born among us.
Great hopes.

We will see what the coming of Mel Zelaya means, but for me what is important is what the poor will do, finding their voice, coming together to live lives to the full, reflecting the presence of God in their lives, working to make real in this world the Reign of God, a Reign of justice, love, peace, equality.

This is happening.  Here’s an example.

Friday I was facilitating a session on the sacrament of matrimony with 35 people in the liturgical ministry of Dulce Nombre parish. To help them think about how marriage and love in the Bible are reflections of God’s love for humanity and Christ’s love for the church, I divided them in groups to reflect on biblical passages.

The first group had Genesis 2: 23-24. They shared what that passage taught them about marriage. One of the strongest messages they shared was the equality of men and women. I could not help rejoicing.

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