Several of you have written to ask
what happened in our second “cena política” (political dinner). You
will remember that in the first conversation, we heard horrifying
accounts of the rampant violence in the countries represented.
The purpose of our second conversation was to develop a theological
framework that would help us to respond positively to the situations
of violence and death that we had described. In what ways is God
present and how do we understand the action of God within our
reality? What does Christian faith have to do with or say to this
culture of death? I share with you some of our reflections.
Traditionally, we have understood salvation as saving us from hell:
Jesus died on the cross to save our souls from the consequence of our
sin, which is death. Jesus’ blood makes it possible for us to go to
heaven after we die. But
salvation involves much more. It begins with a new relationship with
God that gives us a new purpose for living: to serve others. It
transforms interpersonal relationships and communities. It seeks the
salvation of the world that involves every element of human life.
Olga, a nun who has been
working in the favelas
(slums) of Brazil, spoke of the constant need to
nurture our spirits with a deep relationship with God in order
fill us with God’s love, forgiveness, hope, and a sense of
identity. Only then can we share with others.
From his experience in
the “new towns” (slums) of Lima, Macoy shared his
conviction, developed in his thesis, that a transforming
Christian education can empower people to be critical thinkers,
resilient, able to make wise decisions and to unite in
solidarity to change their negative situations.
Viviana shared the work of
Christian peacemakers in Colombia, in the midst of a civil war,
building bridges and healing wounds from the physical,
emotional, and spiritual violence. They proclaim a God of peace
who opposes all violence, and teach alternative ways of
Direct action against
the structures of violence can be very dangerous. But simple
actions can be acts of protest. Sonia shared how, in
Guatemala, where one of the casualties of war has been the
breakdown of trust, Christians break through the mistrust to
show compassion and build bonds, collecting food and donations
for the widows in the neighborhood.
Salvation is for the
hopeless and the suffering. The group shared
stories of serving children living on the streets, convicted prisoners,
trafficked women, marginalized groups, proclaiming to them life
Salvation is personal
but also social, and includes the struggle for justice of the Indigenous
peoples of Latin America, whose ancestral lands have been stolen
and their people marginalized. Christians raise their voices to
proclaim a God of justice.
Salvation is for all
people, and is not the private possession of any
one group. In Colombia, a group of Christians unites many
different denominations around a common interest in Bible study.
Salvation is not
judgment but love, not condemnation but forgiveness. It is not based on
a moralistic obsession with who is “in” or “out” but on acceptance and
I hope you are as inspired as I was to listen to these
committed and visionary Christian leaders.