Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Enough already!": Bishop Raul Vera's homily during the pilgrimage of priests and seminarians of the Diocese of Saltillo, 12/5/2014

This homily is available in Spanish on Redes Cristianas.

God is manifesting Himself in the voices of the victims

The Lord Jesus opened the eyes of those two blind men who trusted that he would make them see, and they saw (Cf.Mt.9:27-31). But he, who didn't want to appear to be a thaumaturge, i.e. a miracle worker, ordered them not to tell anyone because his main task was to perform the delightful miracle of the total transformation of men, inside and out, the whole person, body and soul, everything. He came not to transform a few people but to transform the whole human family. However, those people who had been blind spread what Jesus had done for them everywhere.

This is happening now. You can't keep Jesus from opening the eyes of his daughters and sons. Some would like us to remain blind, for people to believe that they have to resign themselves to death caused by injustice. They would like to see people resigned to suffering impunity, they would like corruption not to be pointed out. This is impossible because, first when Jesus, with his Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit the One God, created human beings, he created them in his image and likeness, which means that men and women are gifted with intelligence and will and, even when that intelligence and will was damaged by sin, Jesus came to forgive that sin and introduce divine life in man because God needs human beings to build the world according to His designs.

This is what those who are destroying the world, those who are tearing Mexico apart, don't want to understand: that we citizens are always going to demand to be part of the construction of the history of good and justice. At this moment the people's demands in face of the series of injustices they've been committing -- injustices the size of the one committed by the Mexican government in Iguala, Guerrero -- are unacceptable to them. Here in Saltillo and in Coahuila, we know of disappeared persons. Specifically people who come to the Fray Juan de Larios Diocesan Center for Human Rights who know about and denounce where the police are involved, when it's army personnel and when it's organized crime groups, but they're also aware of the complicity between public officials and criminals embedded within the government or organized as mafias through cartels in civil society. Which yields as a result impunity for the criminal actions of the forced disappearances of many citizens. And that's the responsibility of the Mexican government.

Ayotzinapa made manifest the criminal situations that have remained unpunished for years throughout the country

What has happened in Ayotzinapa is that everything has been committed in the spotlight. The police took these young students (normalistas) publicly and people know that the municipality with its principal authority, the mayor, the public safety body and all that is in the service of that municipality, is part of the Mexican government, because the municipality is one of the levels that, with the state and federal ones, form the three levels of government of Mexico. From the moment the mayor puts them under his control, he becomes responsible for their disappearance, and therefore it must be considered a state crime.

Now they're trying to make us think that the captors of the youth from Normal Rural were some paramilitaries under the command of Mayor Abarca, thus trying to tell us that they weren't municipal police but a particular armed group of the mayor. We know that in the municipalities and states of the Republic, the authorities are creating armed groups called "rapid reaction" or something similar. The state of Coahuila "officially" has GATES and during the past administration of the Saltillo municipality, GROMS was created, which are groups that serve as part of the state to maintain security. Both groups have been denounced as torturers and murderers, not just by migrants and prisoners but by citizens in general. We all understand that they're officially part of the state of Coahuila, so they're instruments of the government. That's it.

God is intervening in history and Our Most Holy Mother of Guadalupe said she would keep an eye on us. With the help of God who sustains His children and the light that our faith in the person of Jesus and the gospel he preached offers us, we can distinguish good from evil while we are still on this earth. This is what those who wish to remain in the dark with their crimes don't want to happen. That's why they want to silence us when we complain about their injustice, corruption and impunity. What solution will they offer? We've already heard it the last few days in the words of President Peña Nieto: even more repression.

They don't want to govern well? Let them get out!

Reading the prophet Isaiah, we tell them based on our faith, enough with their crimes, enough with their corruption, enough with their impunity, but we don't just tell them that. We proclaim with the gospel what God has said since ancient times:

"Surely, in a very little while, Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be considered a forest! On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll; And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly shall again find joy in the Lord, the poorest rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." (Is 29:17-19).

Saint Paul, in the Letter to the Romans, says that the Holy Spirit comes to our aid so that we might know what to ask God for in our prayers (Cf. Rm 8:26-27). We wonder how the Holy Spirit comes to our aid. To make us understand based on the gospel of Jesus that for the good of all in society, peace should be established and that to maintain it, we must watch that justice prevails in human relationships but that if it's lacking, we should demand from public authority the strengthening of justice, since it's the job of every political body in the state to establish law and justice. We know that God has been enlightening human beings throughout history through the innumerable disciples of Christ and thousands of people who adhere to universal values that govern lasting human relationships between women and men in society so that each day we find a more perfect way to establish law and justice, through the collaboration of honest people who emerge from the historic organization of the people themselves and are delegated by them to be in front as their rulers.

This is what the bad rulers want -- for us not to see, for us to remain blind to their misdeeds, and that's why they say that when we complain about injustice, we're destabilizing the country, we're seeking to overthrow the government. No, sir, what these people want is to be governed well and if they don't want to govern well, then let them get out.

The unexpected surprise of God's actions in history

Let's look ahead in the Isaiah text that was proclaimed a moment ago:

"For the tyrant shall be no more, the scoffer shall cease to be; all who are ready for evil shall be cut off, those who condemn with a mere word, who ensnare the defender at the gate, and leave the just with an empty claim." (Is. 29:20-21).

To understand the meaning of this text, important for shedding light on our Christian actions against the serious situation being experienced by Mexico, I refer to the end of the text of the prophet Isaiah proclaimed earlier, and Jesus' words, first to his disciples during the Last Supper and then before Pontius Pilate during the trial through which the Roman procurator sentenced him to death.

Isaiah says: "Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, those who find fault shall receive instruction." (Is 29:24) In this text, God is proclaiming through His prophet that what leads to reconciliation both for the one who causes injustice as well as the one who is bothered by it, is the truth. The same truth that breaks the vicious cycle of impunity that leads to the multiplying of the tyrant's crimes. Truth leads us out of the aberrations through which the tyrant is driving society, and forces him to accept responsibility for his crimes. Truth that breaks with impunity, returns tranquility to the society that had become discontented with the dictatorship of the tyrant.

Jesus, before his disciples, prayed for them to his Father in Heaven like this: "Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth...I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth." (Jn 17:17,19) In this sense, consecration means surrendering oneself totally for the truth. Jesus died for the truth, as if he had said "I'm consecrating myself in sacrifice for the truth." Before Pilate, when the latter insisted on asking if he really was a king, Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pontius Pilate was far from the truth because he wasn't interested in the welfare of those people since the people he was supposed to rule in the name of his friends, of his fellow tyrants, were ones he was primarily interested in exploiting, squeezing, and crushing. So to Jesus' answer, Pilate asks Jesus, "What is truth?" (Cfr. Jn. 18:32-38) Jesus consecrated his life for truth. He was being led to the sacrifice because he never denied the truth the Father had ordered him to teach and we his disciples, because of his sacrifice, are consecrated to defend and spread the truth he gave us in his gospel. To that end, during Jesus' last supper with his disciples, he pleaded with his Father, referring to them, "I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.."

Henceforth, the Holy Spirit comes to our aid, St. Paul says, so that we might know the truth about what a nation organized in justice and law should be, what a people who lives with dignity should be, an authentic way of governing, and a just economic system. That is, the true way of organizing the world. This is what the Gospel teaches us, this is what God teaches us, and this truth cannot be enclosed in the churches. We can't just remain in the truth Jesus taught us. We must proclaim it, we have to organize ourselves to live it.

When Isaiah says that those who err shall acquire understanding, what's the prophet proclaiming? Undoubtedly these words invite us to ask ourselves how we are going to cancel out the destructive power the corrupt have. The first answer that jumps out is this: through justice. Unfortunately they have power that is nefarious, with the multiplication of injustice. How will we bind up and destroy the lies they tell? Through the truth that comes out of our people, through our people's denunciations that ought to be heard in court, where there should be judges and ministers who work honestly and are fair. So, how important it is at this time for the very cynical injustice and corruption that we are witnessing to be denounced! It's impressive that this started through some young people so we can't leave them alone. We can't forget the many young people who are hoping for a better future. Moreover, are we going to let the children of our country live in a nation gone to dust and at the mercy of a few corrupt people? How are we going to leave these creatures alone? God calls us through the most defenseless people to restore this nation.

Mary of Guadalupe, a sign of hope and challenge

Mary of Guadalupe also came to us to proclaim the gospel of love and justice, she came to us to proclaim the gospel of truth, and she asked Saint Juan Diego for decisive collaboration with her. She did not admit any excuses from him; she ordered him to return to the bishop's house to obtain for her what she had asked -- to have a little house where she could hear our prayers, our afflictions and lamentations -- so she ordered him to put "every effort" into it. Nor does Mary admit any cowardice or laziness from us today, much less indolence. She doesn't want pastors who flee and hide in the face of the wolves or worse still, who associate with the wolves by complicit silence before the destruction of their people.

From the outset, we have placed the pastoral plan of our diocese in Mary of Guadalupe, because through it we seek to bring to Christian maturity first ourselves as shepherds of the people that we are, then each and every one of our faithful so that, by maturing in faith as disciples of Christ, with many people of good will who belong to other denominations and other faiths or simply are not attached to any creed, we might be the ones who truly dictate what this country should be, so that all injustice, all corruption and impunity might be overcome through a new organization of our country, founded on the strength of justice and law, and on the gentle impulse of love and compassion for our sisters and brothers who are suffering.

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