“The Seven Gifts of Resurrection”
Easter Sunday in the Church in the Struggle
“2012 is the year to multiply our communities of faith!”
Today is Easter, the first day of the Resurrection in the year of 2012 – and we thank the Lord for this blessing! We celebrate today a victory over the attempt to suppress a people and to suppress the Spirit of a people. For the public murder of an innocent man did not destroy the faith, the hope, and the unity of a people in struggle. Because of the resurrection, it strengthened that faith and spread the movement from one end of an oppressive empire to the other. It gave new hope and new strength to each of us, to each of our families and to each of our communities of faith.
The next seven weeks of this season of resurrection are a very important time for our church, for our movement, for many of our families which are in danger and for the future of our young people, whose lives are also in danger. To face these challenges we will study the seven gifts that were revealed to us through the ministry of Jesus.
He gave us the gift of Baptism, that out of oppression and the imposition of a culture of death upon us will come new life. For if we take off the clothes of greed and arrogance and violence, the Lord will dress us in the finest clothes of his Kingdom.
He gave us the gift of Communion, that out of the denial of our culture, our history and our faith will come a new unity that restores our relationship with God.
He gave us the gift of forgiveness and Reconciliation, that allows us to continually reform and renew our relationships with each other, to hold together our families, our faith communities and to expand and multiply our movement.
He gave us the gift of Prayer, that we might continue in our church and in our homes to bring the awesome power of God to give us strength and healing, and allow us to step into the Kingdom of God.
He gave us the gift of Abundance, through the miracle of the fish and the loaves, that we might never feel we are alone in our striving but dare to reach out to mobilize our people in the cause of righteousness.
Through the faithfulness of the Mother of Jesus and the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe, we have been given the gift of Assurance that we have a future that is blessed by God and that God is with the people of the South.
And finally, He gave us the gift of Commission, that just as the faith that binds together our community protects us, it also converts victims of injustice into witnesses to the Kingdom, turning shame into self-confidence, defeat into victory.
In the next seven weeks we will ask you to focus on each of these gifts, one each week, to teach them to your children and to use them in your lives and in our movement. If you do this I promise you that you will see benefits that you never dreamed were possible.
This week, we focus on the lesson of the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene and the mother of Jesus went to the tomb to bathe the body of Jesus, because they loved him. The disciples were still in hiding. When they came to the tomb, the stone was rolled back and the tomb was empty. Inside the tomb they found the death clothes of Jesus, but not the body. Two angels appeared to them and asked,”Why do you look for the dead among the Living?” They reminded the women that Jesus had said “The son of man must be crucified by sinful men and on the third day be raised from the dead.” The women returned to tell the disciples what they have seen but no one believes them.
What has happened? Remember that Jesus also said, he was the seed and he told the parable about the mustard seed. He said the mustard seed was the smallest seed you plant in the garden but that it would grow to be the largest tree in the garden with branches so many that the birds of the air and gather on its branches.
When the mustard tree grows what happens to the seed? You cannot find it anywhere. And so they could not find the body of Jesus in the tomb where the stone was rolled away because Jesus was the seed that became the faith and unity of the people of God! That was the Baptism of Jesus!
The first miracle is that this happened 2000 years ago – but the most powerful miracle is that it continues to happen every year. Every year in the fields the seed becomes the corn. Every year, the seed of faith that God plants in the believers produces a new crop and a new harvest!
We saw the resurrection of our movement last year, a resurrection that began right here in this church and won protections for millions of the undocumented. We saw that resurrection in some people’s lives, in their marriages – but we also saw some people miss the resurrection that was offered to us. We saw some families fall apart, some people lose their way. We are determined to reach as many as we can reach this year, for the offer of the resurrection in your lives is real if you just open your hearts to it.
Every year we have walked with Jesus and we have seen the miracles of many victories. This is no time to get tired. Don’t worry if you feel old, or tired, or overburdened with problems, or if you are just coming to the faith and the movement and don’t quite understand what is going on. We are in God’s hands here. We are part of God’s plans here. I just ask you to listen to God calling to you, listen to Jesus calling you, and listen to the Virgin of Guadalupe lifting up your courage.
This year we are challenged to find solid ground to stand on. We are hated by the Republicans and lied to by the Democrats. The Democrats have not only deported millions but they have passed into law a health program that makes the undocumented uninsurable – like the”untouchables” of India. At the state of Illinois level, democratic leaders are proposing to cut healthcare for undocumented children; and they are proposing to even cut support for dialysis for the undocumented.
The democrats have done this as a concession to the Republicans who would deny us the right to work, to send our children to school, and every other basic right that would allow us to live with dignity. And Obama believes we have nowhere else to go because the Republicans are so hateful. He believes we have no ground to stand on.
This is the structure of daily crucifixions for millions of our people; crucifixions that could hit any of us at any time: any time we are stopped by a traffic cop; anytime we get a serious illness. Moreover the Latino community, from Honduras up through Mexico, right into Pilsen, has become the delivery boys for drugs to the billion dollar market fueled by rich lawyers and advertising executives. This has occurred because U.S. policies have destroyed any other means of employment. And competition to survive in this delivery system has created the cartels and has transformed our youth organizations into killing machines. Waves of murder of women and children are sweeping up from the south to our neighborhoods.
A consequence of this violence imposed on the Latino community is what we see every day as the eyes of the children we love grow cold and lifeless. A consequence is the suspicion now directed at every young person who wears a hoody, a suspicion that often ends in their murder or unjust imprisonment, stealing the best years of their life.
These are the crucifixions we face. Just as we faced crucifixion and betrayal last year, we will face it this year. God will show us a way where there is no way. If we have faith and open our hearts, God will show us again the miracle of Resurrection.
Our churches, the ministries of Familia Latina Unida have provided protection to our members –and to many who have come to us. We have kept people from being deported. We have kept families together. We have found health care for people that saved their lives, which made the blind see. We have kept young people from going to prison for the rest of their lives on false charges.
We have assembled the resources to provide this protection: a legal program with lawyers and a partnership with a congressional office.
We have assembled a health program that is activating hundreds of young people to break through the barriers to health care and we have reached into the heart of major hospitals and clinics to achieve health care and save lives.
More than simply existing as a community of protection, your ministries have provided the way for victims of injustice and racism and discrimination to become witnesses to the justice promised by the Kingdom of God. As Witnesses some of you became famous and important voices for your people and you regained your dignity and your self-respect in the eyes of your children and in your own hearts. As witnesses, a new generation of young people led the struggle, became heroes in their families and in their community and restored the humanity and dignity the system would take away and replace with suspicion.
This year we were given signs to guide and inspire our ministries. The posada at Rush Hospital resulted in sight for a man that could not see. It also opened the doors of the hospitals to our 4 plus 1 to get 20program. Every week now we are training young people to screen and refer those who need and have a right to health care. Now we are in a campaign to gain summer jobs for the youth to continue with this program.
The courage of Gabino Sanchez in the city where the democratic convention will be held has given us a way to confront the Obama administration and hold them accountable to the promise we won from them last year. Our week and week out program to prepare cases for prosecutorial discretion here in this church will also provide us with witnesses to confront ICE here in Chicago, as part of a national campaign, to protect our families from separation.
Our commitment to these ministries have not diverted our attention from the day to day search for holiness in our lives, for both faithfulness and reconciliation in our marriages, for the exploration and discovery of the Way of faith for our young people. In fact, our ministries are the soil in which those individual struggles grow.
This year, we are given a new challenge, a challenge to expand our community of mutual protection and witness to new communities of faith.
Jesus stood before the temple in Jerusalem and said, “I can tear down this temple and rebuild it in three days. “In fact, forty years after his crucifixion, the Romans tore down the temple and the people were spread throughout the Roman Empire.
The three days from which Jesus resurrected revived his teaching and the seven gifts we talked about in the hearts and minds of the people. Because of his ministry and his resurrection in their hearts and in their faith, they kept alive his Way of faith in all the places they were driven to. Jesus said,”Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them.”
That is our challenge this year. In the context of our ministries, we are asking you to form groups of five to ten other families. We are asking you to invite five to ten other families to join with you, to practice the seven gifts, and to form smaller communities of protection and witness, learning from the community of protection and witness we have all created together in our two churches. We are asking the young members of the Fuerza to form crews of 50 in every high school and neighborhood.
We need to show that our people can be organized by faith and by self-determination. What we have learned and enjoyed in our community of self-protection and witness cannot stand still. If we do not increase in our numbers we will not survive. That is the truth!
It is Resurrection Sunday! We are ready! God is calling us to the fullness of life of his Kingdom! I am here to tell you that there is a crisis in what they call Christianity. There are politicians running around this country calling themselves Christians campaigning to destroy and separate Christian families. There are so called Christian Pastors and Priests rolling in dollars and telling our people to be quiet, to forget about their neighbors, to suffer in silence at the injustice that is raining down on their heads. They say it is enough to “believe in Jesus”, to accept Jesus as their personal savior.”
But I am here to say that Jesus came and still comes to be the savior of the people who are oppressed, those forced to survive in a hostile land, and to make them a light to the nations.
I have seen Jesus. I have experienced the resurrected Jesus. I have welcomed him into my heart. And I have seen the Virgin of Guadalupe. I have traveled to Tepeyac and prayed in her presence. But I have heard them calling. Jesus said, “If you love me, follow me. Walk in my footsteps. Pick up my cross and march and gather the people of God.”
We have been blessed here in so many ways. We have been blessed with beautiful children. We have been blessed with strong young soldiers. We have been blessed with families that know joy, joy even in the face of difficulty. But to those who have been given much, much is expected. This year, we will grow our numbers as we grow our faith. No matter the difficulties. We will never, never, NEVER be discouraged; for Jesus is walking with us when we walk in his footsteps, making a way where there is no way.
WE WILL OVERCOME! AMEN? AMEN! AMEN!
John 2:18-22 “I will raise it again in three days.”
The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
Luke 24:1-7 “Jesus Has Risen”
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.
Luke 24:8-12 “THEY DID NOT BELIEVE THE WOMEN”
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
Questions for discussion:
- 1. What are the Seven Gifts of Resurrection?
- 2. Explain how Resurrection is the gift of Baptism and why Jesus called his crucifixion, death and resurrection his baptism
- 3. Explain how our ministries provide both protection and a way for victims to become witnesses to God’s Justice
- 4. Why are we challenged to multiply in small communities of faith that provide the same mutual protection and possibility for victims to become witnesses.
- 5. How would you organize your small group?