The Second in the Seven Gifts of the Resurrection
In the Church in the Struggle
There is nothing sadder than to watch children, sitting by the doorway, watching their father and mother quarreling. It doesn’t matter what caused the fight. It doesn’t matter who was right and who was wrong. Those children are the purpose that God gave those two people for their lives. It is a sacred purpose. And it is wrong, it is just wrong, for them to get so caught up in their anger, in their lack of forgiveness, and forget that purpose.
I am not saying that divorce is wrong – or a sin. We are not Catholics. Sometimes divorce is the best solution to a broken marriage. But it does not give parents the right to forget their purpose, to forget their responsibility to form a new relationship that provides security and love and guidance to the children God gave them. They have to find a way to forgiveness, to reconciliation.
That is the problem we have now with the government. The government takes the position that they can separate a mother or a father from their children; take away a mom or a dad from their children. They do not have that right. God does not give them that right. And we should never act the way the government acts. We should never act towards our children the way this government is acting. We have to learn the way to reconciliation.
This church, which offers you faith and the Word of God, which offers you protection from deportation and separation and from sickness, this church of 150 can and should be a church of 1500 by the end of this year. That will make you a force to be respected and an example to be followed. But we cannot do that if we do not learn the Way of Reconciliation.
After the disciples left the empty tomb, afraid and discouraged, Mary Magdalene stayed. She was angry. She was angry that they had crucified her Lord; the man she held above all others, the man some say was also her husband. Now she was angry that they had stolen his body. She saw what she thought was a gardener.”What have you done with my Lord,” she screamed in anger.
And then it happened.”Mary,” the Gardener called. And then Mary recognized that the gardener was Jesus, resurrected, risen from the dead. Why hadn’t she recognized Jesus? She was too filled with hate and anger. She was thinking about HER loss. The death of HER man. And that blinded her to the miracle of the resurrected Jesus.
In the same way, the husband and wife that are quarreling in front of their children don’t see their children. They don’t see the gift of the purpose God gave them.
And Mary Magdalene, at least for a moment of anger and grief, did not see the purpose for which Jesus gave his life. All she could see was her loss – until Jesus called her name and in that moment, it all came back to her. Jesus did not come just for her. He came to save a people from shame and oppression. He came to give them faith, to offer forgiveness and redemption to a people who were lost.
For a moment she forgot His purpose – and she forgot the purpose He had left for her.
We read also today from the story of Joseph. I want you to remember how we read the bible. The Bible is the LIVING WORD. That means it is the story of the people of God – in the past and also in today’s times. We read the Bible by finding our place in that story.
Joseph had been sold into slavery to the Egyptians by his brothers, because of their jealousy and their envy and their greed. As a slave in Egypt, which was a country of great wealth, God blessed him with great vision. He rose to a position at the right hand of Pharaoh because he predicted a famine that was to sweep over all the nations of the region.
When the famine hit Joseph’s own people, his father Jacob sent his brothers to Egypt for food, for they were starving. Joseph took care of them but demanded that they bring his father to Egypt. When his father died the brothers, who had sold Joseph into slavery, feared he would seek revenge on them for what they had done.
But Joseph was a man of God. He had forgiven them. What did he say to them? “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
How did Joseph forgive and reconcile with his brothers? First he humbled himself before God:”Am I in the place of God?” Instead of judging them and taking revenge he looked for God’s purpose. In fact, because they had sold him into slavery, he had become a powerful man in Egypt and was able to save his people from starvation. When he invited his father to come to Egypt, God told Jacob to go, for, in Egypt, God would make them a great people, as many as the stars in the sky.”
The Bible teaches us to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. This does not mean compromise. This does not mean making an agreement based on the selfish interest of the people or groups who are in conflict. No, not at all! The Bible teaches us to look for God’s purpose and reconcile to achieve, to serve, that purpose.
A husband and wife who are in conflict are asked to reconcile to serve the safety and development of the children. They are asked to put aside their judgment of each other, their accusations, their jealousies, anger and envy, in order to serve the gift God gave them. Sometimes this means staying together in marriage and changing things in their relationship. Sometimes it means ending the marriage and beginning a new relationship of friendship to help raise their children. Even a bad marriage can be a blessing in the gift of wonderful children.
The Bible also teaches us to put aside our anger so that we can SEE each other, see that each of us is a child of God, SEE that we are the people of God and God has a purpose for us. Like Mary Magdalene, we are asked to see Jesus in each other!
What truly is our situation? Many of us are here because of the corruption and violence in Mexico, in Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador. Some were actually sold or had money extorted from them like Joseph. Like Joseph, their journeys were dangerous. Like Joseph, they were treated badly when they came. Like Jacob, they came so their families and their people could survive. You worked. You sent back money so that your families could eat. You formed families and God provided for you to multiply and become a great people. In time, you will determine the future of this nation –and you will determine the way this nation treats the nations of Latin America.
You are asked to find your place in the story of the people of God. You are asked to SEE each other as children of God, to see each other as part of God’s plan.
If you were born here how do you SEE your parents? Do you judge your parents by the standard of the false “American Dream”- the American Dream that treats them as criminals because of the language they speak? –The American Dream that criminalizes and murders you and your friends because you wear a hoody?
Do you say,”My parents are nothing because they clean houses or sell corn on the street? Or do you SEE them as they are, courageous hard working people who are part of God’s purpose, making a way for you and your generation to be a great people that will change this nation? Do you SEE what they have gone through to survive and make a way for you?
And parents, do you SEE what your children can be? Do you SEE Jesus in them? Or do you only see that they are often caught in a culture of selfishness. Do you only see that sometimes they disrespect you and ignore the struggle you have endured, the sacrifices you have made?
The Bible asks us not to view things in terms of our own personal grievances and frustrations. Mary Magdalene looked at the crucifixion of Jesus as her own personal loss. She did not see what God was doing. Even though Jesus had explained it to her many times, she did not see what the sacrifice of Jesus would mean for the people of god down through the centuries. As a result she almost missed seeing the greatest miracle of her life, the resurrection of our Lord!
In the weeks to come, we are going to ask you to form Iglesiacitas en la lucha, little churches in the struggle. We are going to ask you to invite your families and neighbors to come together regularly to do the things we do together as a church: to protect each other, to pray together, to live the Word of God together, to come forward with witness to justice together. Yet for these little churches to survive and grow you must SEE each other as Magdalene finally saw Jesus. You must learn to put anger and jealousy and pride to the side. You must see in each other the people of God, with God’s purpose guiding you, and reconcile your differences to that purpose.
That is the Way Jesus died to show us. It is what he meant when he said there are only two great commandments: Love your God with all Your Heart and Love Your Neighbor as yourself.
In the story of the people of God, after the people had come to Egypt with the help of Joseph and become a great people, things changed. Another Pharaoh came who did not remember Joseph. He persecuted and made miserable the lives of the people because he feared the power of their growing numbers.
You know that part of the story. You live looking in the rear view mirror. You live without rights and with discrimination. When Moses came to save his people in Egypt his most difficult task was to renew the faith of the people, to revive reconciliation and unity.
Through God he did that. Through his own faith and service, he brought the people through the desert. And when the people forgot their faith again, he sent prophets to remind them and finally he put his Spirit upon Jesus, who is always with us, in each of us, if we just open our eyes and see each other, see each other in the purpose and love and justice of God. Learn the lesson of forgiveness and reconciliation! Those who humble themselves before the Lord need never bow down before the arrogance of men. You are the people of God. Jesus Christ lives in each of you!
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
FOR THE SECOND WEEK IN THE RESURRECTION
Genesis 50:15-20 Joseph Reassures His Brothers
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
John 20:10-16 Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
John 20:17-18 Jesus Reveals Himself to Mary
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.