Daily Readings for reflection
Wednesday, April 3
When the “Good News” Isn’t So Good
[Bartolomé de las Casas (1484- 1566) was a 16th-century Spanish colonist who acted as a historian and social reformer before becoming a Dominican friar. He was appointed as the first president Bishop of Chiapas, and the first officially appointed “Protector of the Indians”. His extensive writings, the most famous being A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies and Historia de Las Indias, chronicle the first decades of colonization of the West Indies. He described the atrocities committed by the colonizers against the indigenous peoples. His positive view of the Indigenous in the Americas was unfortunately not dominant and was not adopted as the modus operandi of the Spanish Monarchs.]
Rather in 1513, the Spanish government created [the Requerimiento] a kind of Miranda rights – style document that was to be read (in Spanish – incomprehensible to the indigenous people!) to those about to be conquered. It was the summary of the Gospel as they understood it; it was their core message, their “good news,” the metanarrative that legitimized their white Christian supremacy:
On behalf of the King, Don Fernando, and of Doña Juana I, his daughter, Queen of Castille and León, subduers of the barbarous nations, we their servants notify and make known to you, as best we can, that the Lord our God, Living and Eternal, created the Heaven and the Earth, and one man and one woman, of whom you and we, all the men of the world at the time, were and are descendants, and all those who came after and before us…
Of all these nations God our Lord gave charge to one man, called St. Peter, that he should be Lord and Superior of all the men in the world, that all should obey him, and that he should be the head of the whole Human Race, wherever men should live, and under whatever law, sect, or belief they should be…
One of these Pontiffs, who succeeded that St. Peter as Lord of the world, in the dignity and seat which I have before mentioned, made donation of these isles and Tierra-firme to the aforesaid King and Queen and to their successors, our lords…
Wherefore, as best we can, we ask and require you that you consider what we have said to you, and that you take the time that shall be necessary to understand and deliberate upon it, and that you acknowledge the Church as the Ruler and Superior of the whole world, and the high priest called Pope, and in his name the King and Queen Doña Juana our lords, in his place, as superiors and lords and kings of these islands and this Tierra-firme by virtue of the said donation, and that you consent and give place that these religious fathers should declare and preach to you the aforesaid.
If you do so, you will do well, and that which you are obliged to do to their Highnesses, and we in their name shall receive you in all love and charity, and shall leave you, your wives, and your children, and your lands, free without servitude, that you may do with them and with yourselves freely that which you like and think best, and they shall not compel you to turn Christians, unless you yourselves, when informed of the truth, should wish to be converted to our Holy Catholic Faith, as almost all the inhabitants of the rest of the islands have done. And, besides this, their Highnesses award you many privileges and exemptions and will grant you many benefits.
But, if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their Highnesses; we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can…
– Introduction taken in part from The Great Spiritual Migration. How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian. Brian D. McClaren. pp.80-81
God the Helper of the Needy Without Requirement
1 Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord; praise the name of the Lord.
2 Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time on and forevermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised.
4 The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap, 8 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!
– Psalm 113
• The white supremacy first installed in our continent came to greatly shape our culture, government, economics and history. It is really at the root of the challenges that lie under the foundation of life in Palín and Guatemala.
• How/where/when have you seen this requieremento of supremacy playing out this week?
• Psalm 113 offers a radically different version of power both divine and human. Rather than power affirming itself in violently-enforced obeisance, the god sung of in the poetry of the psalms is affirmed as worthy of praise and recognition for radical acts of solidarity and liberation for the poorest of the poor, the most invisible in society – the orphan, the widow, and the refugee.
• How do you struggle to trust it that vision of power? Where/when/how have you seen it expressed and affirmed this week?