On Sunday, November 13th Antonio Gallardo faced the challenge of preaching to our 1:00 p.m. Spanish language service in the wake of the presidential election. Here’s how he rose to the occasion — with words both pastoral and prophetic.
Dear brothers and sisters, today I want to share with you that for the first time in over 23 years since I have lived in America I feel unsafe. And that lack of safety is not only due to the results of the presidential election, but also due to what these results mean for people like you and me in this country.
On Wednesday, the day after the election, I was flying back to Los Angeles from a meeting of the Latino-Hispanic Task Force of the Episcopal Church in Hartford, CT. At the airport, after I cleared security, I suddenly was surrounded by white people, and for the first time in 23 years I was fearful. I was afraid that one of them, given my condition as a Latino, could insult me or even attack me.
I immediately started thinking about how I could react if this happened, and the first thought that came to mind was that, as an American citizen I have rights, and that I would ask for help from the police. Then I looked at the police and saw that they were all also white. It crossed my mind that even those white police officers could be part of the movement of people that hate Latinos, people like me.
It was then that I realized that I do not feel secure, because not even trusting the police brought to mind memories of my experience with the police in my native country Venezuela, where the police is not exactly the group that can protect you, but rather the group that can do to you more harm.
One of the things that I have appreciated the most about living here in the United States has been feeling secure and protected, and at the Hartford airport, the day after the elections, that sense of security was shattered by the reality that we now live in this country; and I’m not alone in this feeling. I am sure that most of you may be feeling the same.
In these elections most all of us here were the subject of attacks: as people of color, as immigrants (documented or not), as women, as LGBTQ.
The message that Mike shared with us the day after the election captures the reality that we are living, and as a Latino person I can relate to it. He said: “What has been revealed about our nation is what those among us on the margins have known all along … that to be a woman, a person of color, an immigrant, a Muslim, an LGBT person, a person living with disabilities is truly to be valued as less than in this nation.”
Deepak Chopra, renowned author and prominent in the New Era Movement, said that what happened in this country was that “The Shadow” came to light. The Shadow is a concept in psychology that says that we all have one aspect that resides in the unconscious that combines all the dark impulses – hatred, aggression, sadism, selfishness, jealousy, resentment, sexual transgression – impulses that they are hidden from plain sight.
The emergence of civilization is a tribute to how well we obey our conscious mind, and keep our unconscious side repressed. In the last presidential campaign, The Shadow erupted in many people, and when the shadow erupts, what is wrong becomes right. Being a transgressor feels like a relief, because suddenly the collective psyche can jump to the “forbidden” fields in our mind. This has opened the possibility of establishing a new order of life, potentially dominated by the shadow that has come to light.
What can we do ?
First, we have full confidence in the promises of God. The times we are experiencing will eventually pass, simply because they are not times where God is at the center of what is happening, nor there is communion, but rather division among the people. What we are seeing, which sadly is for a large majority of the country a sign of admiration – as it was for the people in the gospel, is the temple of “The Shadow” built in this country, and that will end as Jesus said: “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down”.
And when we hear this, the question that comes to mind, like for the people in the gospel is, “When will this happen?” And that Jesus of truth cannot give an answer about when it will be, but he invites us to fight for truth and justice, for a world where God is at the center, and where there is harmony.
Within our feelings today we are reaffirmed through Psalm 98 that we will reach Victory in the God that we trust, the King of Kings:
“O sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gotten him victory.
The Lord has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity”
We must also be very clear, as Jesus warns us, that the price to pay may be costly; it can cost us our freedom, friends, family; but our leader Jesus Christ assures us that he will always be with us, that “not a hair of your head will perish.” Do not know what to do or say? Jesus also tells us today not to worry because he will give us “words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.”
We can do in practical terms?
• See the situation for what it is, a confrontation with The Shadow;
• Find every opportunity to reinforce the values back to righteousness and reason in your own life;
• Do not fight The Shadow with The Shadow, which means do not bend down to play with the rules that reject all moral and religious principles, because those who act from the shadow will always be willing to go lower than you are willing to go . As the first lady said, “When they go low, we go high”;
• Suffer and embrace the emotions that we feel, but do it quickly. Cry, and feel all the fear among us. Share how you really feel because that’s part of healing. When someone asks, how are you? Free yourself by saying: “I am fearful”, “I angry”, “I am frustrated”
And then…. We cannot stay there
Rise Up: because we know that we are stronger than we think in Christ, and now we will show it to each other;
Rise Up: because life has been preparing us, from the time of our ancestors, for moments like these. Because we know that The Shadow will not succeed, and we are followers of a leader, Jesus Christ, who has left us some great values of life: kindness, compassion, be civilized, and that all are equal before God;
Rise Up: let’s prepare ourselves to be leaders, for ourselves, for those we love, for others who have more fear us, for the love we have for this planet.
Through baptism we are all alike, sharers in the kingdom of God, and we are all theologians, freedom fighters, prophets, disciples, visionaries, and warriors of love.
We are strong and wise, and fear does not intimidate us.
We will not tolerate injustice.
The time to fight against injustice and oppression has come, the movement of Jesus Christ calls us to “stand firm” !!!
Brothers and sisters, I invite you to, in a more special way than in any other occasion, appreciate the gift of the liturgy we have today in our hands, because it is full, from beginning to end of words of truth, hope, and comfort; instructions for life, appropriate prayers about how we feel, and of praises to the God who loves us.
All, all the liturgy, from the entrance song where together we said that our “Consolation is only in our God, a God who gives us words of life, peace, love, and where we cry that we will love one another”; the readings that give us words of hope and strength for the journey; the hymn we sang before and after the reading of the gospel where we are called to be prophets, where our voice is the cry of a people in oppression; the songs during communion where we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us; the song of Santa Teresa de Avila that tells us that nothing shall disturb us; the procession song where we will go full of joy and hope praising our God; the gift of love of a community that suffers together the reality of the country, and where we have each other; and the body and blood of Christ, sustenance for the journey ahead of us.
The liturgy of today is a special gift of God for his suffering people.
Let us ask God for the grace to live fully this liturgy that today God gave us, that we open our minds and hearts to receive all messages in a special way today, and that we leave full of hope for a better world, and with the courage and strength to fight actively to achieve it. AMEN