THE SECRETS OF OUR FATHERS
FOURTH SUNDAY IN THE SEASON OF PENTECOST
IN THE CHURCH IN THE STUGGLE
Message by Pastora Emma Lozano
Jesus Christ came to bring us the Way, the Light and the Truth. He said that after his crucifixion, the Spirit of Truth would come to convict those who murdered him unjustly with the truth of his innocence. The political system of this country does not make decisions based on truth. It makes decisions based on the selfish desires of men for wealth and prestige and power. But the truth does provide for the unity of those who suffer injustice – and that unity forces decisions to be made that bring about justice.
Our movement is based on the truth that this nation operated a system of undocumented labor in order to increase profits and remain competitive with economies with lower labor costs. It is based on the truth that this nation protects its borders from the return of people whose land it has stolen and the empowerment of those whose labor it exploits by torturing families with fear and separation. The truth of the witness of these families, of your families, has convicted this nation of its sin- and the truth has unified the Latino community and almost the entire religious establishment. And that unity has forced some positive decisions to be made by a President who has no other motivation but his own reelection.
18 months ago, we began in this church the campaign for American Children and Families. We sought to force the President to use his executive power to grant relief to the families of five millions U.S. citizen children and one million dream act eligible young people – as well as to those one million young people themselves. Last August, we won a partial concession from the President to grant the relief we sought on a case by case basis for those caught though racial profiling and the growing immigration enforcement dragnet.
We won some cases but thousands were still deported. You kept the pressure on. You did not give up. Gutierrez did not give up. On Friday, the President announced a nation-wide program for Dream Act eligible students to apply for a two year deferred action status –and to get work permits. While we celebrate this victory we recognize that Obama only acted because of the unity of the Latino community. We also recognize that he acted only for the dream students because he could give them relief without admitting the responsibility of this nation for the system of undocumented labor – and for the torture of families to control its numbers. He could say they were brought here as children and therefore were not guilty of the “sins” of their parents. He could do so by inducing them to join in the hypocrisy of criminalizing their own parents! He gave us hypocrisy – with benefits! He was forced to attempt to divide us because of our unity. That attempt to divide will not work. We have faith and proof that the young people for whom we have won protection will not turn their backs on their families because we have taught them who they are!
Last week also brought to a close the discussion period for the new rule which will allow citizens and legal residents to apply for legal status for their undocumented family members without those family members having to leave the country. We should soon be able to begin those applications.
Finally we are closing in on Homeland Security’s attempts to avoid giving the prosecutorial discretion that was promised – on a case by case basis. We will not stop that pressure because we have learned that this President only responds to pressure – the pressure of unity based on truth. This week also, an unprecedented coalition of Democratic and Republican Evangelical Christians – representing 29% of all those who vote united to demand that the government stop the separation of families. These organizational religious leaders were responding to your efforts to reach out across denominational lines at the grassroots to defend family unity against the broken immigration system. That means more pressure on Obama in support of the families.
We are winning more cases. Today, Father’s Day, it is appropriate that we celebrate the release from custody of our brother Ramon Humberto Marin Garcia, the father of three beautiful U.S. citizen girls. We will not forget the torture of this family that happened last week when he was arrested at his home in front of his children – but we thank God that he is with us here and with his family today. It is a victory that gives us the strength to continue the struggle, one family at a time.
There are many secrets here in this church. In the Catholic Church, these secrets are kept by the Priest in the confessional. But here, where the confessional curtain has been torn, the secrets are kept by the women, and by God, the secrets of our husbands, our fathers and our brothers. Today we honor those secrets, together, before the Virgin who knows all our secrets, and before God.
Today, we honor the fathers who were deported, who were arrested, sometimes in the early morning, in their pajamas, in front of the children who looked up to them. We honor the fathers who were locked up in cages, abused and insulted, transported in chains together on buses, like animals, by men with badges and uniforms and guns. We know the secret thoughts of shame and despair and regret. We know the secret prayers – and the secrets of those who did not pray. We know too the secret that they could still see the tears in their children’s eyes, children who could not understand why strange men had come and taken away the fathers they depended on. We know the secret that those tears burned their very bones. And we know the secret that these men cried sometimes too, in secret, and those secret tears burned their eyes, and their eyes kept on burning even after the tears were gone.
Then there were more secrets. Back across the border, there was no Migra chasing him. No one chased him because they had already taken everything that was important to him: his wife, his children, his job – and his dignity. Yet they had left him with one thing: a choice, a decision. He could go back. He could cross back over, face arrest and prison, for the crime of seeing his family again. That is all they left him: a choice.
Today we honor all the fathers, but especially those who made the choice to return to take responsibility to raise their children, to hold their families together, who felt the current of the river around their chests so that their hearts could beat next to the hearts of their wives, who endured the heat of the desert so that they could feel the warmth of their children’s small hand in theirs.
We know these secrets – and we honor those men who have lived them. And in honoring them, we at the same time honor all the fathers who worry every night that they will hear the knock on the door, who look in the rear view mirror again and again when they drive to work, but still go to work, still provide for their families, with no rights on the job, and struggle with their children to keep them from the darkness of the street, in the secret lives they are forced to live. But we know their secrets and we honor them.
And we know the secrets of those who have the papers this nation requires but are still treated as if they were aliens from another planet – but stand strong in their secret hearts for their families. We know their secrets and the decisions they make to honor us and we honor them. And those young fathers, caught in the difficulties of the broken immigration law, and the racism, who got into the street life at a young age and now face the decision to be fathers and to guide their sons through the paths they know too well – we honor you for your decision to be fathers. We know the Blood Money Monster of the street still reaches out to pull you down and we honor your struggle to resist – and to be fathers to our children.
We your mothers and wives and sisters who honor you also know other secrets. We can tell by the look in your eyes when you have been discouraged, when anger has overcome the love God gave you, when the temptations of a corrupt Godless society have led you astray. Yes we know those secrets too and we forgive you because we know the strength, the courage and the love that causes you to make again and again the decision to be strong for your families, to be strong for your children, to return to us.
Now the scripture we read today tells us about the disciples and the way they organized communities of faith after the crucifixion of Jesus. We saw them go out boldly, convict the murderers of Jesus Christ in the street and offer healing and forgiveness to those who had remained silent while the messenger of the Lord was killed. And we saw them called before the rulers and refuse to back down as the word they preached and the miracles of healing they performed drew thousands to the movement and to new life. But how would they sustain their movement?
The scripture says that the disciples gathered together with a few believers each evening in prayer – and felt the Holy Spirit. It also says they shared everything in common so that no one was in need or felt alone. How do we build the love and the trust to give birth to these communities of faith, these families of families which sustain our faith, our movement and our survival? And what is this Holy Spirit that bound them together so wonderfully?
Certainly we need to learn. We need to learn because we need these communities of faith to sustain each of our families, to sustain our children in the face of families that have been broken by the law or by the culture, as well as to sustain our movement. The last three years have proven that our movement cannot be led by organizations that depend on funds from the same system it seeks to challenge. Our movement needs a foundation in the faith.
Today I want to tell you that the Holy Spirit is in the secrets of the heart we share and in the destiny of God’s planting. Today we want the fathers to know that we love you. We want you to know that we know the secrets of your heart and that your secrets are safe with us. They are safe with us because they are safe with the Lord, the God who loves you and who has planted you here in this nation like Oaks of Righteousness; planted you to grow a people that will become a people as many as the stars in the sky; a people which will transform this nation because they are a witness to God’s Justice and Love.
This week we stood too with other fathers – and mothers – against the discrimination of the hospitals that would deny them transplants – and life – one at a time because they do not have papers. We will win their transplants. More important, they are representatives of the millions of people –excluded from Obama’s healthcare program—who die twenty years before those with insurance for the lack of healt hcare. Our young people of La FuerZa Juventud, many of whom will now get dream act deferments, are organizing every day to win them the right to health care, the right to life, through the 4 plus 1 to get 20 campaign.
Today, our prayers are also with Elvira Arellano as she leads Familia Latina Unida in Mexico on the caravan from the border in Chiapas to Ixtepec challenging those who are running for the Presidency to protect the migrant fathers who have been the targets of violence and robbery because the current President of Mexico, under pressure from Obama, who has chosen to control immigration through allowing the torture and murder of the migrants. Our prayers are with her and the caravan because it not only demands protection for the migrants but offers redemption to those caught up in the violence of the cartels and the Blood Money system of drugs and guns that flows from the wickedness of the20 million U.S. citizens who buy drugs illegally and the companies that sell the guns to everyone for great pofit.
Only you can sustain these movements, these movements which God has planted here to save the people of the Americas. And you can sustain and grow these movements – and your families – only if you rely and give the glory to God. When you gather together in organizing the little churches we are asking you to organize, the Comunidades de Fe, know that the secrets you are forced to live are safe with us. And know that we give great honor to the decisions you have made in secret, to stand up, to be strong, to confess and overcome temptations, to be the fathers of our families.
When you go out today from the church, when you see the garden around the Virgin, when you see the beautiful garden and the beautiful roses that Fidel and Robert and the other fathers have created and maintained, know that that garden is a symbol of the families, the beautiful roses symbols of the beautiful children, that these and all of the fathers have protected and watched over. Know that just as the Virgin watches over their work in her garden and loves them, so we watch over them as they raise our gardens – and love them.
Happy Fathers Day! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!