Day of Atonement
(Part of the Peace Week-End of the Chicago Clergy Coalition)
Fourth Sunday in Kingdom Time
In the Church in the Struggle
We are gathered today along with churches throughout the city to proclaim a Week-end of peace, a response to the reality that Chicago has become this summer the most violent city in the nation. We are here especially to call on fathers to atone for having let this situation get so far out of hand and to listen and learn what we can do to stop our children from losing fathers and from growing up in the coldness of killing and the sadness of the loss of loved ones.
We begin by seeking wisdom from the teachings of Jesus and James, the brother of the Lord. We should remember that their teachings were timeless but at the same time were addressed to the specific challenges and injustices of their times. We should remember that they were also prophets, telling us what was to come, what we had to prepare for. Their teachings were timeless but also prophetic.
What is timeless is the meaning of the gift of children, the gift that makes men into fathers. Jesus said,”Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Jesus meant that there is a Spirit in children, a spirit of innocence, and joy, a faith. They are so filled with hope. They are so honest. And they give us the gift of making us fathers – when they are born, when they put their little arms around us, when they look at us with such love and expectation.
There is a choice that comes when you become a father. All of a sudden you are somebody. You are somebody in your child’s eyes. You want to do as well or better than was done with you by your father. You want to keep their joy and their ability to love alive. Sometimes that turns our lives around. But not always.
Think of the scars that come from losing a father. Think of the scars that come from growing up in the killing fields – of losing their friends as they grow up.
Is it not the responsibility of fathers to stop this, to protect the joy of our children, to protect their lives? Today we send the message to especially our young fathers. Your children’s future is in your hands. Your life MEANS SOMETHING to them.
The gift of children is also part of God’s plan. For he has made a people to come north to this country as he sent Joseph, followed by Jacob, to Egypt: to become a great people, to become as many as the stars in the sky, that they might change and bring justice to this nation.
In the presence of God’s plan, how can we allow the bloodshed of the streets to be their future?
The teaching of Jesus was also prophetic. He was preparing the people of God for what was to come only a few short years after his crucifixion. He warned the people what was to come and he showed them the problem they had to overcome. He taught them to name the demon that waited to destroy them and to drive out that demon. And he gave them a program of action for their survival.
Today, we read that Jesus drove out a demon. The demon had possessed the man. It made him violent. He was violent toward others. He was violent towards himself. The whole town stayed away from him.
Jesus looked at the man – and he saw the demon that possessed him. “What is your name,” he demanded. “The demon recognized Jesus and feared him. “My name is Legion,” he answered. Legion was the name of a division of the Roman army which had conquered and occupied the land of the people, keeping them in poverty. The demon that had possessed the man, made him crazy with violence, was the spirit of a wicked empire which oppressed him. When Jesus NAMED the demon he called it out and”Legion” went into the pigs, ran in the lake and drowned. The man was made free.
We need to name the demon that is responsible for the violence in our community: We name it today. We name the demon the Blood Money Economy.
First there is the market. There are twenty MILLION people in this country who buy drugs illegally. That provides the market that creates the drug economy all through Mexico and Latin America.
The organizations that produce and distribute drugs in this multi-billion dollar industry compete with each other, just as in any industry. But there is a difference. They cannot go to the courts or the department of commerce to resolve their disputes. They are outside the law. So they resolve their disputes with the gun. And the guns are produced by gun manufacturers in this country. These companies produce twice as many guns as could be used legally. They KNOW what the guns they produce are being used for.
The organizations need soldiers to use these guns to settle their disputes. In Mexico, the soldiers defend the interests of the producers. In our cities, the soldiers defend the territories of the organizations that distribute and sell the drugs. It is just like Wal-Mart or k-mart. You have your k-mart and you don’t want anyone else to sell their goods on your territory. But the Blood Money organizations are outside the law. Therefore the soldiers are trained and ordered to defend the territories, to defend the markets.
There is an inexhaustible supply of young men to be the soldiers. They keep the Blood money system going. If some get out of the rackets, others are there to replace them. Why? Because this generation has been abandoned by this country. That is why there is a 50% drop out rate for Latinos in Chicago public schools. The schools have failed them. And there are no jobs now even if you manage to make your way through the schools. A generation has been abandoned. And if you get arrested, rightfully or wrongfully, then you have a record and nobody will hire you. Or if you have no papers, you can’t get hired. So you become ready recruits to be soldiers in the blood money economy.
How do you make a Blood Money soldier?
The soldier must be made to not be afraid to die. That is the number one requirement. I am not talking about dying for something important. They must be made not to be afraid to die cheap –for nothing. That means they must come to put no value on their lives – as if they are worth nothing.
Being willing to die cheap becomes an ethic that the soldiers share in solidarity. They share it in funerals when they pour wine on the graves of dead friends. They must become cold to life, as willing to kill as to die.
They must accept revenge as righteousness. They are there to defend the market place, the blood money K-mart. But that defense takes on a life of its own. They kill for revenge – because someone else’s soldier kills one of theirs. And soon they kill anyone in the other territory, whether they are soldiers or not, even if they are children.
Then the soldiers take drugs. Their own lives have become cheap to them so they prove they are not afraid to die by taking mind changing drugs that cause them to do crazy things. And those drugs fry their minds. They become like the demoniac in the Bible, occupied by the oppressor, driven to violence, towards others and towards themselves. The Demon has occupied their minds.
The Demon occupied life is a fountain of violence. One soldier leaves to be replaced by another. It is the most powerful influence on a whole generation. It has the power of solidarity. It has the illusion of courage and loyalty. It has adrenaline. It is sexual and creative. And those who turn away from it often turn away from their own people and try to be like their oppressors. They have no influence on their generation.
The Demon’s name is Legion: The market comes from the U.S. The guns come from the U.S. The unemployment comes from the U.S. And the war on drugs comes from the U.S.
In Mexico, the U.S. initiated and funded the war on drugs. This allowed the U.S. to control the Mexican military – and therefore to control Mexico. That is why they did it. They did not try to stop the drug trade. They did not try to stop the 20 million people who buy drugs and keep the Blood Money economy going. What they wanted was control of the military, just like they wanted control of the banks and of Mexico’s oil.
That war on drugs caused 60,000 Mexicans to die since 2009. More than in Iraq, and Afghanistan and Syria combined! And nobody in this country said anything. Even though the guns for both the Mexican army and the cartels came from the U.S. But the Mexican army lost the war to the cartels. The election ended the war. The new President has made peace with the cartels.
Now I want to tell you about the future. I want to prophesize. I want to tell you that we are being set up. I want to prepare you the way Jesus prepared his people for his time.
The Cartels are coming to Chicago. They have money and men and guns – and they are free of the war. They control the wholesale business and soon they will move to control the retail business. The government knows what is going on. Because the CIA is involved, ”managing the drug trade.” It is just business. And when the cartels come here there will be bloodshed. Just wait until they find heads cut off and laying by the street in Pilsen or Little Village.
Look with me into the future. The violence of the cartels will justify a military response in our communities. The President and Rahm Emanuel will call out the National Guard. And the violence will bring the Migra into our community with automatic weapons. They will come after every young Mexican, every Latino and every African American. They will suppress us – and because of the violence, the community will beg for it – until it is too late, until their own sons are brutalized, their own husbands are deported. That is what happened in Mexico.
That is the work of the demon. That is the future this demon has for us. But it doesn’t have to be if we are intelligent. We must prepare –as if our lives and the life of our people depend on it. Because it does.
We must prepare:
We must fight for jobs and education –TOGETHER
We must organize our own companies – TOGETHER
We must fight for legalization -TOGETHER
We must defend against criminalization, against our young people getting records that destroy their future -TOGETHER
We must provide an alternative organization that builds a bond of love and trust with the community and which prepares our young people to survive and prosper. That bond will organize the community to defend our youth if the government comes after them. That is why we are organizing La FuerZa and the 4 plus 1 to get twenty health program, so that the community will see its young people taking care of them, so that our young people will have a future in the thousands of new jobs in health care that are opening up..
We must use the gains we won through struggle this year and we will begin next week to fill out applications for young men and women to get their two year deferments and their work permits.
WE MUST LEARN TO RESOLVE DISPUTES WITHOUT THE GUN, WITHOUT VENGEANCE AND WITHOUT HATRED. And we must be careful of what we say. James tells us that “the tongue” is like a spark that can start a forest fire. Remember that a Demon is occupying our community. Girls, when you gossip, when you start rumors, people get killed. Your words are not evil but we live in evil times. You have to speak carefully.
That is how we have to organize to name the demon and call it out of our people.
James tells us that if you look in the mirror of the perfect law you will know who you are. But if you look in the mirror the world gives you to look in – the Demon’s mirror, which glorifies violence, which glorifies cheap death, which glorifies instant gratification of desires, which glorifies disrespect for women and disregard for children – if you look in that mirror you will forget who you are the minute you turn away – because in that mirror you are nothing, just a pawn in their game.
God has a destiny for this generation of young men and women – a great destiny that can save this entire continent from oppression and injustice and genocide. If you resist this demon you will soon, with African Americans, be the majority in this nation. That destiny is in the eyes of the children, the joy and love in those little eyes that makes us fathers.
Fathers, don’t let the demon take your destiny away from you. Don’t let the demon take your children’s destiny away from them. You have made mistakes. You are not perfect. But God still chooses YOU to be his people. Take the road of atonement. Seek the Lord, seek his ways, and He will find you. Make good on his faith in you.
If you lack faith – ask God. He will give you vision. He will give you strength. He will call the demons out of you. He will make you strong.
Ask God, come up here with us and ask God together, ask him for the faith to atone, to stand by your family, to stand by your children, to call the demon out of our community. Come up here and sing with us, together, Dame Fe. Dame Fe.
The Scriptures for the Fourth Sunday in Kingdom Time
Mark 10:13-16 The Little Children and Jesus
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
Mark 5:1-10 Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man
They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”
James 4:1-8 Submit Yourselves to God
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.