Why Speak Up Now?

This past Sunday marked the beginning of the Passion week.  If anyone were to ask me what a Mexican Easter looks like, I have no idea what my answer would be.  Growing up in a predominantly Anglo-Saxon Pentecostal church, this holiday remains a reflection of my spiritual heritage and not necessarily a cultural one.  My memories of Palm Sunday as a child coincide with recurring doubts on whether or not I fully appreciate this holiday as an adult.   I think back to my mother playing the role of a grieving woman at the cross, Mary Magdalene.  She gave a performance that still cuts to the bone when I think about it to this day, possibly because they bring up memories of events that brought about those same cries, though not for performance.  

More than Christmas, Easter gives Christians the opportunity to really go all in on our spiritual identity.  The latter brings with it creepy bunnies and egg hunts while the former season begins  Facebook posts about trampling crowds who end up in fist fights because there are not enough TV’s and  to go around.  Thankfully, we all get a chance to sober up, look back and reflect on what this sacred holiday means to us as individuals.  The narrative of the crucifixion collides with our own experiences and scars, creating common threads in the community of faith while allowing us room to remain wholly unique.  This idea opens up the door for diverse, beautiful pictures of how the story of redemption impacts each individual.  I always resisted this idea under the presumption that I was somehow distorting what the Gospel is by inserting too much of myself into it.  I compartmentalized my spiritual and cultural self:  each comprising one half of the same person but neither informed by the other.  As I get older, I find that it is becoming harder to keep the two apart.  This is how I arrived at this blog post.  

As someone who wants to interact with their faith responsibly, I always try to steer away from inserting my own metaphors into the biblical narrative.  As a Mexican, I cannot deny how my cultural experience informs how I relate to the Passion narrative.  When I see the Jewish community celebrating the presumed expulsion of foreign occupiers at the hands of their carpenter king, I also see a significant portion of conservatives who believe that a wall can solve an overly complicated border crisis and keep foreign invaders out.  When I read the words of Jesus about how the world will know Him if we love one another, I am reminded of the day I realized that love for my fellow Christian did not have to be rooted in a conjoined political identity.  When Jesus speaks to the thief on the cross and brings life to him, I see a king that desires to welcome all who are willing and does not deny them based upon their geographical origin.  Our desire to cling to the flag more than the cross is something that must be openly acknowledged and resisted lest the gospel be choked out and we do not even realize that we are the ones with our hands around it’s neck.  

When originally written, there was no way that the original authors of the Gospels thought about a Mexican male in a multicultural marriage who had struggled for years with his cultural identity.  Furthermore, there is no owner’s manual for how one takes their faith and reconciles it with the idea that some people they share communion with act out in such a way as to dehumanize the Mexican community as a whole.  The story of the undocumented is one that runs deep for those us with brown skin.  It is the story of our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.  It is the story of those who die of thirst in the desert or are murdered at gun point by coyotes and cartels.  In essence, because it is all of our stories it is also my story.  My brothers are not rapists.  My sisters are not rapists.

For this reason, I have rejected the practice of adopting a public vow of silence concerning certain political figures.  If I speak, I do not speak to change minds or cause strife.  I speak because I have to be sincere with my own convictions.  I will not be intimidated by a culture of fear or the uncertainty of the future.  I just know that when my children are old enough to have an interest in our current political climate, there is no way that I can teach them to not accept the injustices of this world having remained silent during this time.  The road of regret begins with cowardice, and during this passion week in 2016, I think I am ready to take the off ramp.

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