May 24, 2017

1996

Reflections by Kevin O’Reilly
Upon his return to the United States from San Juan de Limay, Nicaragua, October 1996

You are a God of the poor
a God that is human and simple
a God that sweats in the streets
a God with a disfigured face
for this I can talk to You
as can the rest of my people
for You are a God of the workers
You are Christ to the poor

Misa Camposina Nicaragua

On one level, the people of San Juan de Limay and Baltimore hold much in common. We work hard, fall in love. We try to do the right thing, we make mistakes. We take pride in our children. We watch too much TV. We look to our pastor for spiritual guidance. We pray ….

On another level, there is a great wall separating Limay and Baltimore. Limay is the definition of dirt poverty as the people scratch out an existence of subsistence farming and small commerce. The only certainty of life in Limay is that life is hard, very hard.

I personally want nothing: house, health care, job, two cars, etc. My life has the certainty of a road map just waiting to be lived. I’m planning for my children’s college and my retirement 20 years from now.

Despite a few cracks, the wall separating the rich and the poor, us and them, is getting bigger and stronger each day. Despite our individual good intentions, we are building that wall with our life styles, our investments, our World Bank, the policies of our government which we freely elect.

I conclude with this thought. As the Nicaraguan folk song says, maybe God does prefer the poor. I know it borders on heresy. I know God is a big tent. God loves each of us in a personal way. But maybe God also has a special place in His heart for the dirt poor. Maybe God is on the other side of the wall that we have built. Maybe God does not reside with us, the wealthy of St. Vincent’s, but rather with the dirt poor of San Juan de Limay.