In February, representatives from the eight Sister Parish communities in Guatemala gathered for a weekend of fellowship, learning, and spiritual reflection. We are posting the meeting report, photos, and a song video we made for the Northern churches (below), in the hopes that you can share in this weekend with us.
Throughout the weekend, the group had powerful reflections on historical memory, our own diverse life experiences, and current struggles. Among other activities, we visited the House of Memory Guatemalan history museum. The museum was created to reconstruct a part of history not often taught in schools, the history of the Maya before the Spanish conquest, the history of the system of oppression established under the Spanish that, in many ways, remains in place, and the history of resistance and resilience during the internal armed conflict. At the door, the museum opens with a poem from Guatemalan poet Humberto Ak’Abal:
If I only walked forward,
I could tell you
After walking through the museum and talking about the experience, the Guatemla Directiva chose to reflect on a passage from Mark 1:12-15.
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Jesus Announces the Good News
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
– God is love
– There have been many catechists and priests killed for bringing the Gospel, just like they killed Jesus. They tortured John to silence him, but he can’t be silenced.
– They tortured Jesus and they are still torturing people. They say we are terrorists. How many children were killed, how many massacres were carried out in communities during the war here? According to the Mayan worldview (cosmovisión), with Oxlajuj Baktun (21 December 2012 in the Mayan calendar), we will see a change. God wanted us to fight injustice; God wants us to fight injustice. God is love and this is love, us here together. We have the candles lit and that light is our direct line to God, our communication with God.
– We all have dignity. We were created in God’s image. We don’t have the same shape as God, but we all have that dignity. Maybe some people are drunks or thieves, but each of us is the child of God. We should not make our wealth (or have treasures) here on Earth, but in Heaven. So many people suffer and sacrifice to buy eggs, an Aspirin, while others have great wealth and possessions. Jesus Christ was the first subversive to fight injustice. He couldn’t be bought off with money. We have to hold Jesus as our guide and leader.
– God repented, after the flood and the destruction it wrought. God gave a warning, but people didn’t accept it… There is temptation, but Jesus went to the synagogue and he opened the book and he read the prophecy. The Spirit was upon him and he announced his projects to seek freedom for the oppressed. This is a political project. Lifting up and healing the sick is a health project. Public policy at that time did not favor the people; it was an exclusive system. Because it was Saturday, people were there and Jesus brought the good news, the Gospel. He spoke of the prisoners – they could have been political prisoners, just like many people here are behind bars for defending their people. There are arrest warrants for people in San Juan Sacatepéquez, La Puya, and Huehuetenango. They committed no crime, but they have been persecuted. Others have gone into exile. Jesus wanted to free the oppressed. Our community’s history is not over and each of us can decide what we do. This is voluntary; there is no obligation. Those of us Christians who want to can take up the cross. “Follow me,” Jesus said. Each of us thinks about how we will do this in our lives. Archbishop Gerardi, who first worked in Quiché, a department of Guatemala with a long history of oppression, is one example of a defender who was persecuted. For me, our struggle to defend our collective rights, our rights as indigenous peoples, is born out of our Christian values.
Truly these reflections show a deep reckoning with this message of the apostle Mark. What does this passage mean to the rest of us? How are we called to do God’s work in our own lives?