Tag Archives: Honduras

Longing for the peaceable kingdom

Honduras is suffering – or, rather, the poor in Honduras are suffering.

Violence abounds in the big cities; a drought and a coffee fungus have wreaked havoc on the lives of the poor in the countryside.

The government fails to provide medicines for health clinics, while it provides funds for a militarized police force.

Those who seek peace and justice experience threats and death, as noted in an editorial from America magazine, found here.

Costs rise and so many flee the insecurity and the poverty.

In the midst of this, today’s first reading (Isaiah 11: 1-10) touched me deeply.

Here we long for “the shoot” that will not judge by appearances, who will let the elite transgress the laws with impunity.

We want someone who will judge the poor with justice and decide for the afflicted in the land.

But we also want to see the wolf and the lamb lie down together, where long-held grudges are replaced by real attempts at mutual understanding and reconciliation.

We want a little child – Jesus – to guide us.

But will we follow?

Honduras and the Passion

Yesterday  I went to visit Hogar San José, a home for malnourished kids under five run by the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s order).

I used to go a lot, but for any number of reasons – some not so wholesome – I haven’t been there for a while.

I know several of the sisters since they help with religious education in several villages of the Dulce Nombre parish. One of them opened the door and let me in. She took me to see some of the smaller kids.

The first child had a cleft palate. The second child was without a palate – but with an incredibly beautiful smile. Sister told me that she was nine months old, but she seemed like a two month old. When she arrived at the Hogar she was so malnourished – skin and bones, really – that the doctors couldn’t find a place to put a needle.

I then went to play with some of the older kids and then sit by them as they ate lunch. They were energetic kids, on the road to recovery from malnutrition. There was, as there almost always is, one energetic and mischievous little guy.

It was a good use of a few hours. While I’m still living in Santa Rosa, I’ll have to go back more often.

This morning, on my way back from the lab for some blood tests, I passed by a woman and a small boy, about 5, going through trash. The little boy used his finger to extract some food from the lid of a jar.

The sight of such desperation touches me deeply.

These are some Holy Week images that I will add to the images that came to me during last Friday’s Dulce Nombre parish’s Stations of the Cross, especially the images of two people who had been murdered and the grief of the spouse, sons, and mother of some who had been killed.

There are other images of suffering and repression here: the recent death of an employee of the Jesuit-supported Radio Progreso, the presence of armed police and soldiers on the street and the police aiming at peoples in their cars on deserted roads, the lack of water and basics, a government and judicial system that can be bought for $2,500 or more.

Honduras is suffering the Passion of Christ.

I pray for resurrection.

Letting the Good Samaritan serve

When St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames rebuilt the student center and church, there was a large wall in the gathering space that needed art. Finally, the committee asked Jo Myers-Walker, an artist-parishioner, to do something. She conceived of a story wall with several arrangements of clay figures which would express the life of the parish.

One day I stopped by Jo’s workshop and we talked about the Good Samaritan story which was to be one of the scenes. Since I was the staff person facilitating charity, justice and peace ministries in the parish, I think she wanted to put me in the role of the Good Samaritan.

I told her, however, that my experience, especially in Latin America (up to that point mostly in El Salvador), had been full of experiences in which the poor had been the Good Samaritan for me. They are the outcasts who see the person in need, feel compassion, and draw near.

They, often without realizing it, have healed my wounds – especially of my heart and spirit.

And so, when the wall was unveiled, I marveled at the Good Samaritan, who is Latin American, caring for a person who looks a lot like me. (I actually think he look more like my dad than me.)


This healing by the outcast happens to me even now. How often a kind word has brightened my spirits. How casually they speak of God in a way that opens my heart to God.

And how often they have come to the rescue when my car has broken down.

This week, on the way to a workshop about 15 minutes from Dulce Nombre, my brakes went out. I was able safely to get the pickup to a mechanic in Dulce Nombre who changed the brake pad.

I was going to be late for the meeting, if I got there at all. But Moisés came to the rescue. In his old pickup he came and got me and then brought me back to the mechanic.

It’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last.

I wonder why I’ve experienced such compassion from people with so little.

It might be partly due to being a lay missionary, who has worked in this parish almost six years.

But I wonder if there is something deeper. Perhaps some of those who have suffered isolation and marginalization have let these experiences open up reserves of compassion in the depth of their souls.

Suffering can make people bitter and isolate them even more. But at times suffering is redemptive and opens up the love that is at the base of our beings, that Love who made us, in the image of that Love who is God.

May we let our experiences of suffering – and being helped by the Good Samaritans of the world – open us to be good Samaritans.

I wrote this entry Saturday morning before going out to a parish zone meeting in El Zapote de Santa Rosa, planning to post it on Sunday morning.

As I left the meeting with 7 people in the pickup, people ran to the truck asking if we could take a woman to the hospital in Santa Rosa – 90 minutes away. Of course.

She had been washing clothes near a well and her husband came and had attacked her with a machete.

Three friends went with her – holding her in the back of the truck.

Several of us tried to contact the police to come and arrest the man. We’ll se if anything happened.

We got to the hospital and she was taking immediately into the emergency room. As they lifted her out of the truck, I noted that her lower arm was cut to the bone and almost hanging off.

But what also troubled me was the look of terror on the faces of two little kids, probably her kids, as we waited to leave. What trauma.

I talked with one person in El Zapote who had called me asking about her. I told him to try to mobilize the faith community to help her family.

I’ll continue to try tonight to try to call people to make sure there are people to support her and her family.

Please pray for her.