Bonhoeffer & Metanoia

 

Bonhoeffer

Throughout the years Bonhoeffer, the pastor, theologian and anti-Nazi dissident, has been a great influence on me because he lived out John 15:13 (there is no greater love than to lay down your life then for your friends). Bonhoeffer’s execution was a consequence of the commitment he made to never be silent as others were being persecuted. There can be no Gospel and no Jesus where silence exists. Indeed, once we are silent we have negated all possibility of a world where the kingdom comes in its fullness. So, we remain waiting and watchful. Waiting and watchful in the U.S. and in all parts of the world. (To be sure we do not only watch, we also act on that watching). The following words are true for us now:

Excerpt from “Letters & Papers from Prison” / July 18, 1944:

” Jesus asked in Gethsemane, ‘Could you not watch with me one hour?’ That is a reversal of what the religious man expects from God. Man is summoned to share in God’s sufferings at the hands of a godless world…. It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life. That is metanoia: not in the first place thinking about one’s own needs, problems, sins, and fears, but allowing oneself to be caught up in the way of Jesus Christ, into the messianic event, thus fulfilling Isa. 53. Therefore, ‘believe in the gospel…”

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Eternal Neighbor of God

On this day of “independence” I think back to a reflection from January 1st, 2016. A reflection that asks “who are we when we don’t choose our neighbors?” See below:

January 1st, 2016

Today I asked myself – why am I so afraid of conversion? Even when we profess to live as Christians, even as others admire our walk, it doesn’t mean that we don’t feel fear because conversion makes petitions on our conscience and heart. Conversion asks us: are our brothers and sisters, our eternal neighbors, free? After a decade of activism and organizing, I’m beginning to expand my questions and practices of what revolutionary work truly means. I’m asking myself: who am I as a human being in relation to other human beings? How much do I love others? I am left with the words of Colombian priest Camilo Torres Restrepo (February 3, 1929-February 15, 1966). 

(The following is an excerpt from a public letter Camilo wrote requesting he be released from his vows as a priest to become a layperson in the guerrilla movement in Colombia):

“When circumstances exist which make it impossible for people to give themselves to Christ, a priest is called upon in a special way to make war on those circumstances, even if this leads him to forfeit the celebration of the Eucharist, if it not accompanied by the self-giving of Christians, is a ritual devoid of meaning. …The Mass, a chief goal of all priestly activity, is fundamentally a community action. Now the Christian community cannot offer the sacrifice of all the Mass with authenticity if that same community has not been practicing before, and in an effective way, the love of neighbor which the Gospel talks about. I chose Christianity because I believed it to be the purest way of serving my neighbor. I was chosen by Christ to a priest for all eternity, and I was urged on by the desire to dedicate myself twenty-four hours a day to the love of my fellow-man. ….If I make this sacrifice I do so in the belief that my commitment to my fellow-countrymen obliges me to it. The ultimate criterion on human decisions is love, supernatural love; I am prepared to run all the risks that love may ask of me.” (1968).

We live in a world that says sacrificial love does not exist and if it were to exist it would be subject to our convenience. That we cannot truly serve others in a world where the struggle for liberation is on the periphery of  “who I know, who I trust to know.” Indeed, even the most so-called revolutionary person acts on this “who I know, who I trust to know.” If we believe in a world where sacrificial love does not exist, then every instinct to love, every urge for love, a right and just love will be false

We have to fight the body’s wish for mere survival, the culture of death we find ourselves in, and the comforts of our own self-congratulatory love. We have to fight these for those we don’t know. It is there that we come face to face with God in the flesh on earth. It is the ultimate conversion. We may reject conversion as we turn our backs to the suffering of others. When we do that we make an idol of our fear and place that idol before the Eucharist and stand no chance of overcoming it. Yet, even fear knows that our courage can supersede it. Because – what can the world possibly accuse you of that the greatest gift of God couldn’t liberate you from? Have no doubt that you will be called fanatical or made to feel as Christ has no place in the world but that is when your conversion is needed even more. 

And, either you decide you desire it or you don’t. You want the truth or you want the lies of the world. For what can be said about conversion in words that the heart wouldn’t glorify in fellowship? What is grace if we fear a paltry death in this world? What is death is we die safely as we have been told to die? If you want to fear conversion and death then fear the deaths of those right next to you, the eternal neighbor of God. The neighbor of God you could have loved but choose to reject. The neighbor with the very heart of Christ in him or her. That neighbor is waiting for a conversion. Don’t chose a paltry death as opposed to a death that is extinguished in the faithfulness of God because love is the precise truth. It is the our freedom. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t God intersectional? End Family Separation.

 

 

I took these photos at the Families Belong Together/Familias Unidas No Divididas Rally in New York City on Saturday, June 30th, 2018. As a person of faith, I knew it was my Christian responsibility to march for families being separated at the border. Families who have the legitimate right to ask for asylum at a port of entry. Families, who like the Holy Family, flee persecution, state/non-state violence and poverty so that their children can inherit the promise of the future (Jeremiah 29:11). Let us be clear that these separations are intentional tactics of colonization, white supremacy, and xenophobia that we have repeatedly seen in the history of the United States. The United States has separated Native American families at The Trail of Tears, African American families during slavery and Japanese American families during World War II. When we say end family separation, we must also say – “Abolish ICE” and end the Muslim Ban – because the fight is intersectional. After all, isn’t God intersectional? Isn’t God greater than any limited narrative or silos that implicitly divides us as we dissent? I believe that today’s dissent must come from every cry of suffering we hear because they are coming for everyone. Who will be left? What children will be left? Will you be left?

In Honor of Claudia Patricia Gómez González

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What were you thinking those last moments? moments you couldn’t know for certain would be your last, moments held in a body that refused to be defined by borders that say:

“conquer, colonize, contain”

but you wouldn’t be – and, I want to ask you so much but all I know is your name

Claudia, from the land of eternal spring
Claudia, from the hope of another world that arrived but is now gone – and how do we get there? how do we meet there? where you are everything we need –

where life isn’t a death sentence but the liberation of the mundane, of the laughter, of the years, of old age, of the love you deserved –

I want to ask you so much but all I know is your name

Claudia from the land of eternal spring
I won’t forget because spring in our hearts is all we have left of you.