¿Por qué?… Why?
May 23rd, 2018 was the day on which Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, a 20-year-old woman from Guatemala, lost her life. She was from the rural village of San Juan Ostuncalco in the western region of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. An article published by The Guardian describes the region where Claudia was form in this way… “San Juan Ostuncalco is sprawling collection of mostly Mam [Mayan] communities scattered amid the forest-clad mountains outside Guatemala’s second largest city Quetzaltenango. This region was the setting for repeated atrocities by government forces during the country’s 36-year civil war that left 200,000 civilians dead – most of them indigenous – and triggered a wave of forced migration to the US in the 1980s. More recently, those refugees have been followed by a new generation of migrants, driven from home by extreme economic hardship, government neglect and corruption.” Claudia, part of this new generation of migrants, decided to flee from this extreme economic hardship and government corruption. On May 7th of that year, she began the long and perilous journey from Guatemala to the U.S.-Mexico border. She set out on that journey filled with dreams of a better life in the United States of America where she had hoped to meet his boyfriend who had migrated weeks earlier. Her dreams of a better life were sadly and tragically met with violence and death. After crossing into the U.S. from Mexico,the group she was with by a U.S. border patrol agents who were performing their duty. One of the agents shot Claudia in the head, ending her life at such a young age. The tragic event took place in a residential area in Rio Bravo, Texas beside the home of Marta V. Martinez who was an eyewitness of the shooting and who said “I know that [border patrol agents] are doing their job… but I think their job is not to kill people.” Mrs. Martinez recorded a video of the events using her smartphone in which she follows the agent who shot Claudia, asking “¿Por qué le tiró a la muchacha? ¡La mataste!” which translates to “Why did you shoot the girl? You killed her!”
¿Por que?… Why?… is the question that we should be asking ourselves. As we continue journeying through this Lenten wilderness, the Spirit speaks to us through Mrs. Martinez asking “Why?” Why is there a need for such violence? Why is there a need for young women like Claudia to flee their homeland in search of a better life? Why are their hopes and dreams met with violence and death? ¿Por que?… Why?… Why is there such brokenness in our world? Why are there visible borders that divide our nations? Why are there visible borders that divide people? Why are there also invisible borders between us? ¿Por que?… Why?…We live in times in which division seems to be the norm. We live in times in which those in power are willing to declare national emergencies to further divide people. We live in times in which that division often leads to violence and death at the visible U.S.-Mexico border. And we also live in times where other borders that are not so visible also seek to divide us further. Even though we may live thousands of miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border, we come to these borders everyday. These borders are where cultures, races, ideologies, theologies, as well as political views and affiliations meet. When we come to these borders, the Spirit grants us an opportunity to show compassion and mercy, as well as an opportunity stand with and raise our voices on behalf of those most vulnerable. As we hear the voice of the Spirit asking us “¿Por que?… Why?” Let us also do so remembering God’s mighty deeds of power in and through Jesus Christ, in who those of us who “… once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” (Ephesians 2:13-16 ESV)
Please follow these links to learn more of Claudia’s story:
Prayer Focus: Those who make the perilous journey from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border and are met with violence.
Thought for the Day: As we approach the borders that seek to divide us we have an opportunity to show compassion and to stand with those most vulnerable.
Let Us Pray: Our Father in heaven, your Spirit has led us into this Lenten journey in which we seek to follow the footsteps of your Son Jesus. He is our peace. He came to bring people together. As we approach the borders that seek to divide us everyday, allow us the opportunity to practice mercy and to extend compassion towards others, especially those who do not agree with us. Let our way be the way of peace. Empower us also to stand with and raise our voices on behalf of those most vulnerable. May we realize that your Son Jesus has the power to bring down the walls of division around us crumbling down. We pray this with our immigrant hermanas y hermanos in our heart. We pray especially for those fleeing poverty, hunger, corruption, violence, and persecution. We pray in the name of the One who journeys with us through this Lenten wilderness. We pray in the name of your Son Jesus. Amen.