Monday, June 11, 2007

Where will you stand?

Rev. Richard Black, on the occasion of his retirement from the New England Annual Conference this past weekend, told a story of his time in Guatemala during the unjust dictatorship of the 1980s that speaks to our contemporary struggles for peace and justice.


Rev. Black had been active throughout the 1980's in the liberation movement for the people of Guatemala who suffered under the weight of an oppressive political regime. Those who spoke out against the government were rounded up, swept off to internment camps, and disappeared. People lived in daily fear of the policia and guardia, never knowing when they or their daughter or father or cousin or neighbor would be caught up in the secret raids. Many fled their homes and hid in the hills, seeking refuge from impending arrest. Without food or shelter, these fugitives depended solely on the compassion of a group a priests and nuns who under the cover of night would sneak out to provide food, clothing and supplies to these invisible nocturnal communities.

Once during a visit to Guatemala, Rev. Black had the opportunity to meet with one of the religious workers who supported the refugees. During the day Padre Miguel worked in an elite private boys' academy for the children of the dictatorship, but at night he served those his patrons hunted.

Rev. Black was amazed by Padre Miguel's work in the midst of such a dire and seemingly hopeless situation and so he asked Padre Miguel, "It seems so hopeless. How can you continue to do the work you do?"

Padre Miguel laughed and said, "All you North Americans are alike! You want instant everything...instant food, instant cameras, instant gratification. But here in Latin America we understand that not everything comes in our time. Some things come in God's time."

"The struggle for peace and justice is a long one. We in Guatemala have been living under a colonial regime since 1523. We have been struggling for a long time now, but we are convinced that peace and justice will come. Isn't that the promise we read in Scripture? God's promise of liberation and freedom for all people?"

Then Padre Miguel sat back and paused, he stroked his beard and placed his broad hands on his rotund chest.

He said, "When I die, I hope I go to heaven. And when I get to heaven I hope I meet Jesus. But I don't think Jesus will ask me, 'Miguel, did you accomplish peace and justice in your life?' No, I think instead, Jesus will ask me, 'Miguel, in the struggle for peace and justice, on which side did you stand?'"


That is indeed the question Christ puts to all of us.

In the struggle for peace and justice, where do we stand?

1 comment:

WordK said...

That's a great story.