Here’s a quote from St Francis de Sales:
"Love the poor and love poverty, for it is by such love that we become truly poor. As the Scripture says, we become like the things we love. If you love the poor you will share their poverty and be poor like them. If you love the poor be often with them. Be glad to see them in your own home and to visit with them in theirs. Be glad to talk to them and be pleased to have them near you in church, on the street, and elsewhere. Be poor in conversing with them and speak to them as their companions do, but be rich in assisting them by sharing some of your more abundant goods with them."
You know what he’s talking about, right? COMMUNITY! Knowing and loving the people we serve so well that we become friends, equals, One. That’s the prayer Jesus offers in the Gospel this week: that we might be one, in the way that Jesus and God the Creator are one. We Christians, we believers in the trinity, believe in a God whose very nature is relationship. When we are in relationship, loving, knowing, Being together, we are sharing in the Godness of God. And what’s the point of all this? That our joy might be complete, Jesus said.
Yesterday we had a joyful day out at Iglesia de San Romero. As we arrived back home from Buffalo, a call came, telling the guys not to report to work. Their spots in the field had been filled by others that morning. A week ago that would have been bad news, but the weather has improved and they’ve been working steadily since last Wednesday. (until dusk, on Saturday. Left home a bit after 7 am, arrived back a bit before 9pm, red-eyed from the chemicals in the fields). Now, an unexpected day off is a treat. “Let’s make lunch!” Capo said. “But first I have to visit my friends.”
A minute later he was draped over the side of the bridge like an 8-year-old boy, trying to see the fish in the stream below. We could hear a bull frog, and saw dragonflies – big blue ones – and butterflies and lots of small fish, but none of the big ones he was looking for. We went in and made a stir-fry (burned a stir-fry. I was cooking), and the three of us sat and ate together.
Their lives are hard. They deal with injustice all the time, and loneliness, and monotony. They work harder than anyone should have to, and still are desperately poor. But in the middle of all that – in the middle of unjust truths and ugly realities – there are fish in the stream, and butterflies, and roosters crowing in the neighbor’s yard.
Later we went for a walk with the little boy in the community. We joked and laughed, and when the others came home, we helped clear ground for a vegetable garden, and had supper together. We heard each other’s stories. We got caught up on the news, heard the worries, the concerns for each other. Life is precarious, and hard. But we’re in it together.
On the way home I stopped to visit Librada and her four month old baby, Axel. Axel has enormous brown eyes and seems quite delighted with the world. When we start celebrating Mass – after the cabbage is planted, probably early June – I hope young Axel will be a part of our community, too.
Life is hard. On a day like this one, it is easy to see that it is also quite wonderful.
Love and light to all
That young man who was crossing the desert is safe, but disappointed. He was apprehended by la migra after a day and a night in the desert, and is now back in Mexico. Please keep him and all migrants in your prayers.
If all this information lately has you itching to do something about it, perhaps you would be interested in joining those heading to Albany on Monday, May 21 to rally and talk to legislators about farm worker rights. Send me a note if you want more information, and I’ll tell you how to get in touch with the group. There is power in numbers! Your presence will make a difference.
Come join us, any Sunday. This week I thought it had happened at last: five past eleven and no one there. Then two of our staff from St Joe’s came in, and in the end we had a lovely Mass. You are always welcome.
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620