Gabino’s “Latino Primary”
Fourth Week in the March of Jesus on Jerusalem
Messages from the Church in the Struggle
John 12:42-49 (They loved human praise more than praise from God.)
Mark 10:35-45 (Who is the Greatest) Luke 18:18-26 (The Rich Young Ruler)
Why do people hate the truth? Why do so many see the light and choose the darkness? Why do people turn the innocent over to be crucified to seek the praises of those who only cause them misery? Is it because they are afraid to trust the Lord?
When Moses came to save the people of God from slavery, the Lord brought plagues on their oppressors. Each time, the Pharaoh was terrified by the acts of God and was ready to give the people freedom – but it says that “God hardened the heart of Pharaoh again” and he changed his mind and kept them in slavery- until their final liberation, when he led the people through the waters and then drowned the army of pharaoh behind them. Why did God harden the heart of Pharaoh so many times before he set the people free? Perhaps the Lord was teaching the people to overcome their own unbelief.
We are in the fourth week of the march of Jesus to occupy the temple in Jerusalem. In two weeks we will relive the time in which he marched into Jerusalem with thousands supporting him. And then we will see him abandoned, and crucified. And then we will see him resurrected. We will see his movement grow to millions of people, a movement that will survive the Roman Empire that crucified him. And we will see many of those who persecuted him turn from their hatred and join that movement.
On the way to Jerusalem he tried to teach his disciples. He heard them arguing about who was the greatest. Two of them wanted to sit on his left and right side, to be greater than the other disciples. Jesus told them told them that he is greatest who serves his people and his God. He was warning them about the hypocrisy-and danger – of status seeking. The person who wants to be recognized by others as a leader will easily turn against the people to seek the praise of the oppressor.
And then a rich young man came to him and asked how he could enter the Kingdom of God. The rich young man said he followed the law. Jesus said that is good but that is not enough. Jesus said, you must give all your wealth to the poor and follow me in this ministry to free our people. Joy left the rich young ruler and he walked away in sadness. He could not give up his wealth and his status.
Jesus was teaching the people that they could not be slaves to wealth and material things and know the freedom of living in the Kingdom of God.
He was also talking to a rich young ruler who served the Roman conquerors of his people in order to have his wealth and status. He was talking about Barack Obama.
Last year, from the faith of the people in this church there was born a great struggle. I want you to remember that the hateful republicans had taken over the congress in the elections. There was no longer any hope that a law would be passed that would end the hypocrisy and the cruelty of the broken immigration law, that would end the unholy separation of families and stop the tears of the children.
We began a movement that swept across the country to ask Obama to use his executive power to stop the deportations. Gutierrez went to this rich young ruler again and again while the movement spread from city to city. Each time, God hardened his heart and he refused. Finally we brought the children to the White House, where Gutierrez was arrested like a criminal. Three days later, the rich young ruler agreed to the policy of prosecutorial discretion. Those who had come here before they were 18 and those with U.S. citizen spouses or children would have their cases closed and they would be able to apply for work permits.
We celebrated. We were happy. We began to prepare people who were charged to get relief from deportation. And we began to win their cases. And the rich young ruler began to find favor again among the Latino community whom he had betrayed.
Then came the Republican Presidential Primary contests. The Republican Party had been taken over by the right wing anti-immigrant movement. The Republican primary was a contest for who would lead the white voters against Obama. That became clear in their hateful statements. They all declared their intention to drive the undocumented and their children from this nation.
Obama saw his support rising in the Latino community. The super rich white men, and those who want to be in their favor, who want their praise, told him, ”You don’t have to keep these people here. You don’t have to let this nation reach a majority of black and brown. You don’t have to let the Latinos come into power and challenge the wealth we are stealing from Latin America, the wealth we are stealing from hard working people in this country, the cheap wages, the home foreclosures, and the denial of health care that protects the profits of the insurance companies.
Rich young ruler, you don’t have to stop the deportations because you will get the Latino vote anyway because your Republican opponents are so feared and hated by them. The Latinos have nowhere else to go.
So homeland security began to quietly pull back on the use of prosecutorial discretion. We still won some cases – but they began to deny some people using small technicalities and excuses. And they began to say they would not give work permits to those whose cases they had closed.
Now at the end of last year we had gone with Gutierrez to South Carolina. The Republicans in South Carolina had passed a hateful law that required police to check people’s papers and turn those without papers over to ICE for deportation. We wanted to show that they would not be deported because of the new policy of prosecutorial deportation. We took on the cases of three people who had been arrested by local police and were held in detention by ICE. Gutierrez met with the leaders of ICE and all three were released without bond.
In the weeks that followed, two of them had their cases closed. Yet as time went on, as the rich white men whispered in the ears of the rich young ruler a change took place.
Gabino Sanchez came to this country as a young boy, well before he was eighteen. He married and had two beautiful young U.S. citizen children. He worked hard every day and bought a trailer home in which they lived. He committed no crimes.
To go to work, he had to drive. Eight times in the last nine years, a racist police stopped him and gave him a ticket for driving without a license. He did not get a ticket for running a red light. He did not get a ticket for being in an accident. The police had no excuse for stopping him – except that he was driving while Latino.
Each time, Gabino paid his ticket for driving without a license. He paid over three thousand dollars in fines, money that came from his family’s income, from the things his children needed. So Gabino sacrificed and kept on working to feed his family.
With the help of Congressman Gutierrez, Gabino applied for prosecutorial discretion. He had come here before he was eighteen. He had U.S. citizen children. He fit the criteria. But they denied him. They said, ”He showed disrespect for the law because he was arrested so many times for driving without a license.”
Last week I went with Congressman Gutierrez to Charlotte North Carolina where Gabino was facing his hearing. There we met with pastors and members of the community who had gathered to support him. Gabino’s case was continued until May 15th.
This is a call to action. We had warned the activists that we would have to keep the pressure on Obama to hold the victory we had won. We asked them to form commissions to keep the pressure on. They did not really want to continue to confront Obama. They wanted to get the praises and the riches that come with supporting the President.
Yet a month ago I was invited to Dallas Texas to explain prosecutorial discretion to a group of over 150 Latino pastors. The pastor that organized the meeting, Pastor Lynn Godsey, loves his people and he has continued to organize. He connected us with pastors in North Carolina. He said they were going to have a faith gathering of over 10,000 people on April 21st and that they wanted Gutierrez to speak there. I am telling you that was the Holy Spirit working.
We are going to Charlotte on April 18thto that meeting of ten thousand people and Gutierrez is going to call on the people to surround the courthouse, with thousands, on May 15th when Gabino Sanchez goes back for his hearing.
Now Charlotte is the site of the democratic convention in August. Do you think the President wants to have thousands of Latinos protesting his betrayal at that convention? I don’t think so!
The Republicans are having a “White Primary”. But the Latino Primary will be in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 15th, at the hearing of Gabino Sanchez!
They said the Republicans are so hateful, so wicked, that Latinos have no place to go but to the democrats. And there is no contest in the Democratic Party. There is no Hillary Clinton, challenging Obama for the Latino vote that caused him to promise immigration reform. But they underestimated God! And there will be a Latino primary on May 15th. And this time, the rich young ruler will have to deliver more than a promise. He will have to use his executive power to stop the deportations and give the people work permits! And this will set the precedent for who will receive legalization when this nation does pass immigration reform. They won’t be able to deny people because they have been racially profiled by racist police! You see we don’t fear the betrayal and the crucifixion, because we are sure of the Resurrection!
Next week Gutierrez will meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to enlist them in the fight. Then he will meet with the activists who were reluctant, or “too busy”, to form the commissions to pressure Obama, and put them into action. The Lord has intervened to bring our movement back to life –and we will claim the victory!
We win again the victory of prosecutorial discretion. We will defeat the Republicans. But this time, we will remember the lessons we have learned about the rich young ruler. The day after we defeat the Republicans, we will begin to mobilize in our millions.
But what about us? Why did God harden the heart of Pharaoh yet again?
When we were in the battle against the rich young ruler we were full of the Spirit. Hundreds of young people were here every day. They left the high schools and shut down the streets in front of city hall. The families turned out with their small children to march and rally and protest and give testimony. And the Lord blessed us with the resources to help some of the workers in our movement survive. You were committed and determined. You were serving your people and your God. You were filled with the spirit of solidarity and strength of faith.
After the victory, what did you do? You did what Mexicans have always done, since the days of Zapata. After you mobilized for the victory you went back to your lives, like the farmers that rode with Zapata went back to their farms and let a new group of politicians take over and ruin the nation.
Those of you who won your cases forgot about those who were still in jeopardy. Those of you who had dedicated yourself to the movement started thinking about yourself, about money, about your status. And it wasn’t good. Some families fell apart. People became divided. Some young people went back to the street and are now in jail. I am not saying this was true of everyone. But you know who you are.
The Lord is not going to make you legal so you can become like the people who used you and exploited you and then persecuted you and then tried to destroy your families.
The Lord freed the people from Pharaoh so they could come to him on his Holy mountain and receive the Ten Commandments, the law that would teach them how to live together and become a great people, a light to the nations!
The Lord did not give the young people of the FuerZa a victory so that they could live their lives vicariously on facebook, so that they could go back and sell drugs, the drug sales that are causing the wars in Mexico and Guatemala and Honduras in which thousands are dying.
The Lord gave them the victory so that they could serve their people, fight the 20 years life gap and join the 4 plus 1 to get 20 to fight for life and health care for their people – to become themselves nurses and doctors to serve their people.
But many forgot.
The Lord did not give families the victory so they could buy houses and raise their children to believe in the American Dream and forget who they are – and WHOSE they are.
The Lord has given us the chance to once again bring the plague of the Latino vote against the rich young ruler. He has given us a Latino primary on May 15th.The Lord is teaching us what he wants us to be, His people, who will inherit the wealth of His Kingdom, much greater than dollars or gold – to inherit life, the victory over death, to inherit the love and unity of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Amen? Amen! Amen!
The Holy Scriptures for the Fourth Week
in the March of Jesus to Jerusalem
L. All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying,
‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.”
P. Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.
L. The LORD had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.”
P. Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.
John 12:42-49 They loved human praise more than praise from God.
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.
Mark 10: Who is the Greatest
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”