What a joy it was, a week ago, to tell our Mexican community about Librada Paz winning the Robert F Kennedy Foundation’s Human Rights Award. Librada was there, with her baby son, Axel, and her parents who were visiting from Mexico. I showed them the newspaper article and said, “Nuestra Librada es famosa!” Our Librada is famous!
The best thing, though, was telling them that at the same time as the great honor for Librada, the RFK Foundation is sending a message about them: their value, the value of their lives and of the work they do. What a beautiful thing it was to be able to say that to people who suffer in the ways that they do: You are not forgotten. There was a young man who was not able to be at Mass on Thursday. I saw him on Friday night and explained it to him. He listened, and as he understood what I was saying, a beautiful smile crossed his face.
The award does have teeth in it. It’s not just “Yay, wonderful you, hooray” --- there is a six year commitment to aid in getting a comprehensive farmworker rights bill passed in Albany, that comes with it.
I do not like to talk about my own experience of poverty. The stigma is so great that I can still feel it, today. I remember sitting in my caseworker’s office, waiting for something or other, and fiercely reminding myself of all that was good and strong and beautiful in my life – my kids, especially. The hardest thing about being down in the muck is feeling that all you deserve is muck. How much harder is it for people in their position? How hard is it to believe you are a person of worth and dignity?
That’s a big part of our job as church: to help each other see our worth and dignity, to see what’s best in each other, to believe in possibility. To give hope and vision when it seems impossible to hope or to see a better future.
Another part of our job as church is to work to make that better future possible. Librada’s RFK award is cause for celebration, not just because we’re so proud of her, but because it gives us hope that that better future might, indeed, be possible. May it be so.
This coming Saturday is the Rochester Pride Parade! We’ll be marching with Mary Magdalene Church. Meet at the corner of Park and Brunswick at 3 pm if you’d like to march, too!
And as always, come join us any Sunday at 11 at St Joe’s, or any Thursday, leaving St Joe’s at 6:30, coming home about 10:30.
Love and light to all
Here’s a quote from a great movie:
“Accepting our powerlessness and our extreme poverty, is an invitation, an urgent appeal to create with others relationships not based on power.
Recognizing my weaknesses, I accept those of others. I can bear them, make them mine, in imitation of Christ. Such an attitude transforms us for our mission.
Weakness in itself is not a virtue, but the expression of a fundamental reality which must constantly be refashioned by faith, hope and love.
The apostle’s weakness is like Christ’s, rooted in the mystery of Easter, and the strength of the spirit.
It is neither passivity nor resignation. It requires great courage and incites one to defend justice and truth and to denounce the temptation of force and power.”
- “Of Gods and Men”
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620