Monday, April 16, 2018

God Takes Us to Where Humanity Is Most Wounded

God is eternal newness…[God] takes us to where humanity is most wounded…So if we dare to go to the fringes, we will find [God] there; indeed, he is already there. Jesus is already there, in the hearts of our brothers and sisters, in their wounded flesh, in their troubles and in their profound desolation. He is already there.
-       Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exsultate, # 135

Hopefully everone will read Gaudete et Exsultate, by Pope Francis
I smiled often as I read for the first time Pope Francis’s latest apostolic exhortation, called in English “Rejoice and Be Glad! On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World.” So much of what the pope wrote led me to think of the vision and the mission of Mission Mexico—the “daring” effort of the Diocese of Calgary to “go to the fringes” and to accompany and assist our “most wounded” brothers and sisters among the indigenous peoples of the mountains of Mexico.
Father Lawrence Moran, CSB, began the connection between the Diocese of Calgary
and the impoverished in Mexico. His picture still hangs in a meeting room in Los Reyes Metzontla.
Living here in the mountains offers daily many opportunities and challenges to respond to the God who is “already there” in the “wounded flesh” and “profound desolation” of the impoverished peoples. As I was writing this line, a young orphan knocked at my door; he wasn’t allowed into his high school today because the old shoes he has worn for years finally fell apart, and the school uniform code demands black shoes. I knew Lalo’s mother before she died; I never met the father who abandoned the family years ago; and I know that his elderly grandmother can hardly walk and is quite ill. Tomorrow, Lalo will show up at school with new black shoes. Thank you, Diocese of Calgary.
Edgar, seen here with grandmother and mother, is more mobile with
the wheelchair donated by Mission Mexico.
Last week it was Elena, a woman from San Marcos who was on the back of a truck that went over a cliff. Both of her legs were broken in several places, but the doctors here in Tlapa said that they couldn’t operate, that she would have to go to Acapulco or Mexico City. I was with Elena’s family on several occasions, and I was willing to transport her in the Mission Mexico truck, but personnel at the local hospital wouldn’t give us a medical recommendation so that Elena (who doesn’t speak Spanish) would be assured of entry into a hospital. It was only when a lawyer from the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center threatened to denounce publicly this lack of a dignified response to indigenous Elena that the director gave the family the medical recommendation—and included an ambulance to deliver her to Acapulco.
A sweater is only a sweater—or is it? What else might it be?
Other days involve young people trying to register for high school or university or vocational school for next year. For example, on Friday I will drive five hours to Puebla with five indigenous students—and the director of their high school—the five will write an exam on Saturday at the Iberoamerican University in Puebla; the exam is for a scholarship offered by this Jesuit university. None of the five students have ever been to Puebla, and this accompaniment is one small way to support the dreams of these students who are so used to living “on the fringe.”
Living on the fringe doesn't mean that one doesn't dress up on special days.
On Tuesday night I took an overnight bus that went from Tlapa to Mexico City. I accompanied Daniel, a nineteen-year-old young man from Tlapa who was heading to the U.S. border in the hopes of crossing. His dream is to work in the United States for three years, to help his mother in educating his younger brothers and sisters.
Daniel's last breakfast in Mexico City before boarding a bus "for the north"
After saying farewell to Daniel, I went to the National Cardiology Institute to visit Abel Barrera Hernandez, the founder/director of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Mountain. Abel was driving alone in his car at midnight ten days ago when he felt intense pain in his chest. He managed to get out of the car and stretch out on the pavement. A taxi driver alerted the police, the police called an ambulance, and on Tuesday Abel had surgery at the Cardiology Institute. He is now recovering at home; he has strict orders from the doctors to take care of his coronary stent, to watch his diet, and to not overwork. For Abel that is almost requesting a miracle.
Abel Barrera—surely the most respected man in the Mountains
in the eyes of the poor
During Holy Week I was on the road offering different kinds of service in many communities: Xochitepec; Cruztomahuac; Arroyo Prieto; Potoichan. One gets used to long days here—and night-driving. Easter Sunday involved twelve hours on the road (I might add “the worst road in the mountains”). This past Sunday was only nine hours on the road (I got home at two in the morning). But it’s all about compassion and service—and it’s all made possible through the generous support of donors in the Diocese of Calgary.
Abel Barrera being greeted by a child with Down's syndrome
(photo used with permission from Mirna Xibille)
When he was still a bishop in Argentina, our present Pope Francis was one of the bishops from there who wrote in a document: Personal encounter with Jesus Christ has to lead us to transform through the power of the Gospel our criteria for judgment, decisive values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration, and models of life. Mission Mexico tries to live out and witness to this transformation by going “to the fringes” and accompanying the “most wounded” in their “troubles and in their profound desolation.” I have read that “misery shared is misery halved”—but I don’t believe it. Misery shared is misery’s death; misery shared is the birth of hope. This is Mission Mexico’s most enduring gift here on the fringe: hope. Thank you, Diocese of Calgary, for birthing and nourishing that hope.
Thousands of students' families are grateful to Mission Mexico
for helping to build and maintain the Champagnat High School of the Mountain

1 comment:

  1. Gracias Mike, por seguir compartiéndonos lo que sucede en la montaña, por acercarnos a tantos santos de hoy.