Fifth Week in the Season of Pentecost
In the Church in the Struggle
”The stone the builders threw away will become the cornerstone”.
Welcome in the Truth of Jesus Christ!
I want to begin by making some comments on some political developments that happened this week – and what lessons we should draw from them. You will recall that for the last two years we faced a difficult situation. On the one hand, President Obama had betrayed his promise to us and was deporting more people than any President in history. On the other hand, the Republican candidate for President promised to do even more damage to our families. We were told by many people that if we criticized and organized against the President we would be responsible for electing Romney and bringing more oppression down on our heads. That was the situation we faced.
We decided to choose the way of truth over the way of politics. We went after Obama with the truth: the truth of his broken promise, the truth that he was destroying the lives of five million U.S. citizen children with undocumented parents and nearly one million un documented young people brought to this country as children. We said the truth that he was destroying hard working families who had been welcomed here by employers after they were driven here by U.S. policies in Mexico and Latin America. When it became clear that the Republican controlled congress would not pass legalization we called on President Obama to use his executive power to stop the deportations. When he refused we put the pressure on, telling the truth across the nation. We chose telling the truth over playing politics. What happened?
Last August, the President conceded to us the policy of prosecutorial discretion. When Homeland Security did not fully carry out that policy we again brought the truth before the nation. Finally, the President began to put the policy into practice and then he went further, conceding to our demand to give 1 million people under the age of 30, who came here before they were sixteen, two year, renewable deferments and work permits.
Now we won these concessions because we fought with the truth. What happened to Barack Obama’s campaign for President? 70 % of the voters supported his decision. More importantly, 90% of Latinos enthusiastically supported his position and the polls show he will win over 75% of the Latino vote BECAUSE of those decisions, which should be enough to win him the election. We forced Obama to stop many of the deportations AND we made a great contribution to stopping Romney’s election. We resolved the contradiction by walking in the truth.
The scripture today said ”The stone the builders threw away will become the cornerstone”. Obama wanted to throw away the undocumented and their families – but now they have become the cornerstone of his campaign! That is what walking in the truth brought about. Today, I want you to think more about this and what it means for the way you live your lives.
We are in the season of Pentecost. We have come through the betrayal and the crucifixion of our families. And we have felt the Holy Spirit. The disciples have gathered together and come out into the streets to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ, the truth that the priests and the Romans conspired to kill an innocent man, a true Son of the Almighty God.
They healed a cripple in the name – and the truth – of Jesus Christ. For this miracle and for telling the truth they were arrested but they were released because the people had seen the miracle. Every night the disciples gathered in prayer. Every day they went out and healed more people. They were arrested again – and again they were released, because the people responded to the truth.
You see, Jesus was the stone the builders threw away, and when the truth was told, he became the cornerstone that protected them. The people wanted to be healed. They wanted to be forgiven for remaining silent and afraid when the Priests betrayed Jesus and the Romans crucified him. They came forward and were baptized by the thousands but they were afraid to openly join in the work and the witness of the disciples.
And among those who joined the disciples, not all were committed. Ananias told the disciples that he and his wife were selling a piece of property and giving the money to the mission. But they lied. They only gave half the money from the sale. They were not required to sell their property. But they were required to speak the truth. The Holy Spirit was very strong among the disciples and when Ananias lied he fell down dead. Still, the next day, the healing went on.
We got some healing done ourselves this week. Two years ago we started the 4 plus 1 to get 20 program. We started fighting for two wonderful mothers who needed transplants. They were the undocumented stones the builders wanted to throw away.
We marched to Rush Medical Center and held a Posada. We got a reception and one of our brothers who was blind from diabetes received treatment a few days later. We took that as a sign. We continued to bring out the truth that these rich hospitals were turning their backs on millions of people. The result, we said, was a twenty year death gap, the uninsurable were dying twenty years too soon. That was the truth and we told it.
In the last 21 days we joined Father Landaverde and the families of the Virgin of Guadalupe Mission in a hunger strike. Now we have gotten seven hospitals to join a table of responsibility to provide care for the undocumented – and seven of our people are in the transplant process.
We believe with all of our hearts that the movement to force health care for the undocumented will fix the system for all of the uninsured. The stone the builders wanted to throw away will become the cornerstone of a new and just health care system.
What kept so many people from standing up to Obama in the last two years? What kept them silent while over one million people were deported? When Obama and the democrats passed their health care reform and excluded the undocumented – in fact, made it against the law for the undocumented to even buy health insurance – why were so many people silent.
With good reason, people are afraid. If they stand up,if they speak out, they could lose everything they have. And then there is the hope: what happens to others may pass by me. My neighbor, my brother, may be deported – but maybe they will pass me by. My neighbor, my sister, may get sick and be turned away at the hospital – but maybe sickness will pass me by. Maybe I will be lucky. Let me just play it safe.
Maybe the country will change on its own. Maybe I can just live well here, maybe there really is an American Dream. Maybe I can have it.
And we are tempted to lie to each other – because it is easier than telling the truth. But what does scripture say?
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
And that is what the disciples did: they depended on the Lord! They were free of fear. They told the truth and they lived in truth. They had known Jesus and they felt they had a purpose, a destiny given to them by God.
Truth heals. Living in truth allows love to flow freely. But a lie can destroy a marriage – or a friendship. We lie because it is easier than telling the truth. We lie because then we don’t have to change what we know is wrong in God’s eyes. And when we lie than love and friendship die just as Ananias died.
If you depend on people, on a nation, that despise you, you will be disappointed. You will be used and abused. If you are abused you will take it out on people around you. It is truth that makes you free and freedom gives rise to courage and love grows in the soil of courage.
Jesus called the disciples to follow him, to walk in his footsteps. And Jesus still calls you. He asks you to invite him into your hearts, to have faith in God’s ways, to become his disciple. The Lord calls you to the ”Gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter.” A family that is bound together in righteousness cannot be separated or divided. A daughter that has seen her father stand strong can never be turned against him. A husband who sees strength and courage in his wife – and honors her for it -will never betray her, will never lie to her. And the same is true of the bond between families of the church, of the people of God.
Remember that the disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke the truth of the blessed innocence of Jesus Christ, spoke to the guilt of those who murdered him. They offered healing to the people – and they offered forgiveness to those who had lived in fear and in lies and self-deception. They offered to let them put jealousy and anger aside and give their lives in service to the ways of the Lord. And the Lord offers the same to each of us when we make a commitment to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and the disciples.
Even more than that, our struggle has shown us that God has his hand on us. We may have thought we came here by our own choice. We may have been confused about why we came. But our struggle is revealing to us the truth, that God has planted a people here. You have a destiny, a destiny that you are called to pass onto your children, a destiny that binds you together.
You are the stones that the builders would throw away that will be the cornerstone of a new life for the people of God, a new salvation for the continent of the Americas.
The Holy Scriptures for the Fifth Week in Pentecost
Psalm 118 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down. I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Acts 5:1-6 Ananias and Sapphira
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
Acts 5:11-19 The Apostles Heal Many
The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed. Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out.