The Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 or Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Acts 10:34-38 or Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
While organizing low-wage workers in the Southern part of the United States,I came across a group of committed religious women of Western-European descent who wanted to become allies in the struggle of undocumented latina/o workers. These women were encouraged by their faith to seek justice for those who are least among us. One of their projects was to have latina/o families open up their homes for people who were outside their cultural, social and racial reality in order to have an interchange of experiences. Their idea and initiative excited our small group of organizers who were invited as consulters.
During the two month period of discernment and discussion we realized that these women’s commitment was met with a profound challenge. In their dedication for the rights of migrant workers throughout the years, they had not been able to find authentic friendships with those for whom they so zealously advocated. When the obvious question came up, how many latina/o families do you know that will participate in this, there was only silence on their part. This contradiction was met head on through some difficult conversations regarding racial and social privilege and the blind spots that these create even among those committed to social equity. Our discernment went from accompanying them in a project to encouraging them in a racial and cultural audit within their group that would allow them to question and transform the discrepancy that had been part of them for years.
In the course of seeking an inclusive praxis for social change, we realized that accepting the person-hood of another is always harder yet more just, because you do it day by day and your life is necessarily transformed by the other with whom you walk hand in hand. For most of us it is always easier to accept and validate the humanity of others who suffer injustice, because you can do that with a level of detachment and almost free of the hardships of investing your life with them day to day. While this is a noble deed, in the process of justice, the gospel demands a different approach.
In this feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we are assured that God’s covenant with us is not only by dignifying our humanity through the incarnation of Jesus. God enters in such relationship with humanity that God’s grace is invested in our person-hood. Just as Jesus is revealed as the Beloved one of the Father, through him, all of us, personally, are also recognized as the beloved of the Father. Happy feast day and a Merry last day of Christmas!
Hugo R. Esparza-Pérez, CP is a member of Holy Cross Province currently working as Parochial Vicar in the Passionist Parish of San Miguel Arcángel in Tumbalá, Chiapas. Mexico.