Tag Archives: Esquipulas

Complain or empty myself

DSC02907This morning, the feast of the Black Christ of Esquipulas, I prayed the readings for the feast of the Holy Cross, thinking these would be the readings for Mass today. I’ll be going to the 4 pm Mass in Bañaderos and will probably preach there on the readings in the booklet we use. But here are some thoughts on Numbers 21: 4-9, Philippians 2: 6-11, and John 3: 13-17 – readings that touch me deeply.

It’s so easy to complain. Something’s wrong and we are frustrated. So we complain. What does that do? Does it help resolve the problem? Or does it isolate us in our complaining?

Sure, there is a lot to complain about – the cold or a cold, racism or repression, poverty or poor roads.

But if we just complain, isn’t that like a snake bite, that poisons our bodies and our souls?

But what is the response of Jesus?

He empties himself, in the face of suffering and pain. He identifies with our suffering and with the suffering of the least among us. He does not pull back, holding on to his position as God. No, he becomes one of us, feeling our pain.

But even more he gives himself over in love.

Feeling pain for Jesus meant healing, touching the outcast, going where those in power dare not go. Even to death, where love leads him.

God so loves us that He comes among us, suffers with us, dies with and for us.

And what are we called to do?

Love, give ourselves, empty ourselves of all that keeps us from loving God and the least among us.

Lord, empty me, fill me with love, send me out to give myself for others.


The Black Christ

Black Christ of Esquipulas

Black Christ of Esquipulas

Today we in this part of Latin America celebrate the feast of Nuestro Señor de los Misericordias, Our Lord of Mercy. But it is commonly known as the feast of the Black Christ, specifically the Black Christ of Esquipulas.

Pilgrims throng the church in Esquipulas, Guatemala, to pay reverence to the cross dating from 1594. Over the years, the crucified image turned dark – and began to be called el Cristo Negro.

Cristo negro de Intibucá

Cristo negro de Intibucá

There are other Black Christs throughout the region, including one in Quezalica, Copán, which I haven’t yet visited. There is also one in church in the center of the town of  Intibucá.

There may be other images of a black Christ throughout the world – most notably in Africa and among African Americans.

There are also black images of Mary throughout  Europe, some like the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, but one of the most notable (because of its connections to St. Ignatius of Loyola is Our Lady of Montserrat.

Our Lady of Montserrat, Manresa retreat house, Detroit

Our Lady of Montserrat, Manresa retreat house, Detroit

But what color was Christ?

I think it is clear that he was not blue-eyed and white skinned as many of us grew up with. But that image prevails even here. Note the image of Christ painted by a young Honduran in the Dulce Nombre de María church. (I afterwards told him that Christ was probably not white and showed him a number of alternative images.)


But how often do we white North Americans make Christ in our image and likeness – not only with blue eyes, blond hair, and white skin? How often do we make Christ according to our prejudices, a supporter of our way of life, our imperial demands, our upward mobility?

What if we thought of Jesus as marginalized – as a person of color?

Christ, painted by a young Palestinian

Christ, painted by a young Palestinian

Wouldn’t that make us a different kind of Christian?