We went to the edge of San Juan on Saturday to have lunch in a field under a tree with a family from our house church, Lupe and Rocío (you know them if you’ve followed the blog for very long). We grilled a lot more meat than I thought they could afford (and we had brought a kilo of meat as well), and we sat in the shade on a warm, windy afternoon and talked and watched the shepherds move their sheep and goats past our spot just a stone’s throw from their two room apartment. Quiet for a Saturday. The big day was Good Friday. Saturday is “glorious Saturday” and apparently is glorious for sleeping off the activities of Good Friday and getting out of town for the coming week (vacation as well).
Since our Sunday service was a little earlier than normal, having lost an hour of sleep due to Mexico flipping over to daylight savings on that day, and having an Easter breakfast scheduled for the house church, I told them I would come up and get them (about 15 to 20 minute drive). It would be a quiet morning and not probably many buses would be running too early or often. I’ve never picked them up on a Sunday morning before but had taken them home a number of times after the service.
So, I drove up there Easter morning. It was still not early arriving at 10 a.m. I didn’t realize the wife was planning on making pozole (hominy soup) with chicken. I should have picked up on that on Saturday because Lupe had shown me the long scratch marks on his forearm where the chicken had caught him as he has handling it to kill it and cook it. (How’s that for effort on the church carry-in dinner?!) The pot of pozole was too big for their little gas stove, and then I understood why he had asked to borrow a machete on Saturday. After we left on Saturday, he marched up the mountain and chopped at some tree limbs so they could cook the pozole outside on some rocks and chunks of block. It would cook much faster that way as their little stove wouldn’t manage to cook it through. It would have been quite a walk with three little boys and a 10 gallon pot of soup to catch a bus (close to a mile). A different life than most of us experience.
As we drove away from their apartment Sunday morning to come back to our house, a block away I noticed some kids playing in the cobblestone street and then noticed people milling around a food stand. We all thought someone was selling breakfast, but realized it was in front of that little neighborhood’s Catholic church. Easter morning…the resurrection of Christ and what were these Catholic faithful doing? They were there in their work clothes with wheelbarrows doing construction on their perpetually unfinished building.
The finished work of Christ on Friday somehow only leads to their own efforts to impress God and man by showing up on Easter morning for a work project. I assume they know that Jesus rose from the dead, but there is no understanding of the power of the resurrection and the true purpose of the cross.
For these people in that community, the events of the week merely point toward how great Mary is. She loved her son and wept for him. The Father cursed and abandoned the son. The loving, faithful mother stayed with him and wept for him. The son did as he was told.
It’s a cultural story that results in an elevation of the maternal god who loves us and weeps for us too. They’d better be about her business because for them, that’s where Easter left us, and her “appearance” to Juan Diego proved it when she told him to tell the priests to build a sanctuary in honor of her on a hilltop called Tepeyac; now a hilltop squished in the megalopolis of Mexico City where that nearly 500 year old church still stands just above the modern basilica and where that apron of Juan Diego is displayed up for all to see (millions go to see it every year…there are moving walkways below it so people don’t slow down the masses who come to mass to see it).
Further down the road as we came back into town, we were slowed by a parade of Catholic faithful heading to another church building with banners and fanfare…a slightly different attitude toward the resurrection, but the same flawed message found throughout. There still is only one name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved. That name is Jesus and he purchased our salvation by his blood and freed us from death to life by his resurrection power.