As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth…
Jesus spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva
and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in
the pool of Siloam (which means “Sent”). Then he went and washed
and came back able to see.
Today, Saturday, March 29, I can’t help but think of Father Fred Monk preparing his Sunday homily in Bow Island, Alberta.
|Father Fred Monk receiving a "royal welcome" in Xalpitzahuac in 2005|
If you are reading this, you undoubtedly know that Father Fred is the founding director of Mission Mexico. He comes to my mind today because of tomorrow’s gospel reading from chapter 9 in John’s gospel, in which Jesus gives sight to a blind man.
Father Fred, through Mission Mexico, did the same thing here in Mexico ten years ago. A young boy in the village of Xalpitzahuac, Pedro Bruno Ramon, had been blind for several years. His very poor family had never been able to take him to a doctor. Mission Mexico provided funds for an initial medical visit, for surgery on his eyes in Mexico City, and for several follow-up appointments afterwards.
|Pedro after his eye surgery|
I remember taking Pedro’s hand on one occasion and guiding it toward a cup of coffee on a table. He really was blind! Yet, months later, he was able to see everything—and he proudly began to learn to read and write. That was in 2004.
Thinking of Sunday’s gospel about sight and light, and thinking of Father Fred’s gift of sight and light to Pedro—as well as Father Fred’s incredible use of sight and light in his photographs; please check out www.fredmonk.zenfolio.com—I decided to drive today to Xalpitzahuac to see how Pedro is now doing.
|Pedro and one of the first "white persons" he ever saw in his life (he was impressed)|
I drove for two hours, but discovered that Pedro was not there. I spoke with relatives, and they informed me that Pedro had left last month with his family to seek work cutting sugar cane in the State of Morelos. He will come back to his village in May, in order to prepare the fields for his crops of corn and beans.
When I asked who was included in the “family,” I was told that he went with his younger sister Martina (who also received assistance from Mission Mexico when she was ill from tuberculosis), his wife Lourdes, his four-year-old daughter Cristina, and a ten-month-old son who has not been given a name yet. Yes, Pedro is now a husband and a father—and according to his relatives, his sight is perfect.
|Pedro's house in Xalpitzahuac on March 29, 2014—it's locked while he's away|
It would have been great to speak with Pedro about his memories of those days of darkness and the new sight and light that he received, but that will have to wait for now. (It gives me more time to think of more questions.) I’m simply happy to know that Mission Mexico could help to make possible a new life for this young man. Thank you, Father Fred. Thank you, Mission Mexico. Thank you, supporters of Mission Mexico.
|The Church of St. Mark, in Xalpitzahuac|
Of course, Pedro’s life is surely not an easy one. Cutting sugar cane is one of the worse jobs that one can think of in Mexico. The work is hard, the pay is low, the hours are long, the field is hot. Shortly before the workers go in to cut the cane, the field is set afire. The fire destroys any kind of grass or plants growing among the cane, it forces snakes and other rodents out of the field, and it softens the sap (maybe we’d call it “molasses”) inside the cane. However, the worker tends to become filthy black within minutes of starting work, and the temperature is unbearably (almost) hot. Often the worker is breathing in smoke and soot. But as long as there are impoverished people willing to do this kind of work just to feed their family, the life of a sugar cane cutter probably won’t soon change much.
|Cutting sugar cane—I can't imagine most Canadians doing it|
So please pray for Pedro and his family—and please do what you can to relieve suffering in other peoples’ lives.
|Who needs a bed?—Father Keith taking a break in Xalpitzahuac in 2005|