We are in the fifth and final week of the season of Pentecost. As winter turned into spring, we did what the Lord asked of us. We had walked in the footsteps of Jesus and put our case for justice before the nation, our case for family unity. We had faced the betrayal of Barack Obama and the crucifixion of 1100 deportations every day. We lived the resurrection of the movement, the formation of La Fuerza Juventud, and we gathered the believers to tell the truth about the Barack Obama and renew the movement again. As winter has turned into spring, we are breathing new life into people.
On this last Sunday in Pentecost, we focus on the community of believers we are forming again this year, the community of faith and resistance. We know its components: Familia Latina Unida, the organization of the families; La Fuerza Juventud, the organization of the young people; and La Fuerza de Los Ninos, Los peewees, the organization of the children. But what direction and guide does scripture give our community of believers, our community of faith and resistance?
Today, we receive four lessons.
First, scripture tells us we must be prepared to re-form our families, our church, and our organization from the broken pieces. We must reconnect the dry bones so the Spirit can breathe new life into them. The pressures of the broken law, the culture of criminalization, the exploitation of the economy – these have effects on us. Families are divided, individuals lose their purpose: each year. We have to reform and reorganize our families, our friendships, our church and our movement. That is the truth we learn from scripture.
Second, we have to recognize the gifts that God gives each of us, the journeys God sets each of us on, and organize these gifts and journeys so that they work together in unity. That is the lesson from Ephesians today.
Third, our community has to share its resources to survive. That is what the believers did and that is how they were able to renew the movement and the lives of the people in the face of oppression and hypocrisy.
But fourth, we have to base our community on truth. We serve God. We live by God’s law. That is why we say we follow the law that “What God puts together no man can separate” – instead of the hypocritical immigration law. But we need to face the whole truth: the truth that there is more wrong with the United States than its immigration law. For the United States is an empire, a tower of arrogance that God is turning into a Tower of Babel.
It is not so easy to face this truth and to tell this truth. It was not easy for the disciples to risk their lives to tell the truth that the Jewish government and the Romans had murdered an innocent man, the most innocent man, a Son of God. It was dangerous and it was difficult because the people were confused.
I was troubled this week by a wonderful brother who we are defending. He is facing deportation this week: separation from his wife and two U.S. citizen children. They want to take away everything he has worked for with his hands for over ten years.
What troubled me was that he felt “things were better in the United States – that the people were more generous, where in Mexico it was more dog eat dog. It troubled me because we must know this nation we are living in and what it does to our minds to destroy our movement, our resistance. I want today to talk about three examples in recent history and I want to prepare you for the very important speakers we will have after church.
In Puerto Rico, in the 1950’s, Operation bootstrap took away jobs from men, gave them to women at lower pay and drove the men to leave their families and come north to find work. They also sterilized thousands of women. This was a movement to separate and destroy the family.
In the U.S. they picked some people to support and to feed the movement for statehood, to resist the independence movement. You see they confused their minds. Here is a government, an economic system, that destroyed the economy of their land, that separated their families and even sterilized their women – and some of them were standing up saying “I love the United States – I want Puerto Rico to be a part of it.” That is the confusion I am talking about.
Second, let’s talk about Cuba and the Pedro Pans. After the Revolution in Cuba in 1959, the new government stood up to the United States. They put a stop to the exploitation of Cuba by big U.S. Sugar corporations. So the U.S. decided to bring down the government.
The CIA faked a copy of a non-existent law which said the Revolutionary Government had the right to take children away from their families. They showed this fake law to middle class Cubans and convinced them to let their children be taken to the U.S. They told them; after the Revolution is defeated your children can come back. In this way they recruited these Cubans to support the underground attack on the Revolution. Of course, the U.S. effort to overthrow the Cuban government failed at the Bay of Pigs – but the children were already taken to the U.S there, by the thousands.
They supported some of these children in order to o build the armed opposition to the revolutionary government among their families. They took them to Disney land and bought them new clothes and toys. They made a film about how well these children were doing in the U.S. and “how bad it must be in Cuba for parents to get their kids out of the country” and showed the film all over Latin America. Other s of these children, called Pedro Pans, were not so well taken care of, put in foster homes and abusive situations. But this manipulation of the children – and separation from their families – left confusion among the Cubans in the United States.
Finally, let’s talk about the relationship of Mexico and the US. Today. The great migration from Mexico came as a result of the policies of NAFTA. These trade policies destroyed agriculture in Mexico and put millions of people out of work. The people came to find work and formed new families. When they became too many, they began the deportation and separation of families. It is a cycle that has been going on for over 100 years. But they needed to create the confusion in the minds of the people: as they did with the statehooders, as they did with the pedro pans. And so they created the “dreamers”.
The dream act movement was created to separate the young people from their families. They were asked to criminalize and condemn their own parents as criminals and to swear that this was the greatest country in the world, to condemn the countries of Latin America. They were asked to volunteer to fight its wars.
Last year, we saw Obama and the democrats use the dream act to absolve themselves of their failure to move on comprehensive immigration reform – and they are trying to do it again this year.
We formed an answer: La Fuerza: Young people fighting together, with and without papers, for themselves and their families; telling the truth about the system of undocumented labor; telling the Truth about the betrayal of Barack; telling the truth that he had the power to stop the deportations. They did not abandon the young people, the dreamers, but they also did not abandon the families…
They were willing to get arrested, to march, and they began the lockbox voter registration campaign. Most important, they told the truth, and they lived the truth, of a community of faith and resistance.
For our movement to be successful – for our families to stay together, for our young people not are fed to the beast of the streets and prison, we have to deal with the confusion that this government tries to create amongst us. We must today remember the three principles we must put into practice to insure our unity.
One, we must be willing to re-form families and friends. Every year. If a family breaks apart, we don’t walk away from it. We must admit it, face the reality, and reform a family that can raise the children.
Two, we must organize the different gifts and journeys into one body of faith and resistance. We have some young people here today interested in becoming doctors, interested in going to Cuba to the Medical School program they offer. We have others with different gifts, different skills – and who are traveling different journeys. To organize these different gifts and journeys into one unified organization, we need to both utilize the gifts that each person has and we need to together put the priority on what the struggle needs us to do, what our people need us to do.
Three, we must share what we have to get what we need. That is what we are doing in the summer camp and the challenge to send La Fuerza and a children’s march again to Washington D.C. We are not only sharing our resources we are sharing the work, with each person carrying their load.
The guidelines for conduct of the summer camp have been set for us to act with each other as if we were always in front of the children – and that is our final point today.
In scripture it says: “A little child will lead them”: We put that into practice if, in everything we do, in the way we share our resources, in the way we organize our different gifts, in the way re-form our families: we put the children and their development in front of us the time, then we will be all right.
And we will not be confused to think that a government which separates our families and brings war and poverty to the rest of the world is our friend. God is our friend. And with His help, we will be the Community of Believers, the Community Faith and Resistance that He calls us to be again this year.
Amen. Amen. Amen…
Scriptures ofr Pentecost 5
Ezekiel 37:4-10 Valley of the Dry Bones
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
Ephesians 4:1-8 Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.
Acts 2:42-47 The Fellowship of the Believers
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.