.In our faith, we live the gospel story each year. We have come through the amazing ministry of Jesus: His prophetic birth, his announcement that the Kingdom of God could exist on the earth between the willing and faithful hearts of human beings, his confrontation with hypocrisy and injustice, his arrest, crucifixion and resurrection and his final instructions to his disciples to continue his ministry. The disciples were in hiding, fearing they would meet the same fate as Jesus on the cross. Jesus told them to wait for the Holy Spirit to come on them. On the day of Pentecost, they did indeed receive the Holy Spirit. They went out among the people preaching that the Romans had crucified an especially innocent man, a faithful son of God. Three thousand accepted baptism in resistance to the Romans and the Temple police.
On the second day, the disciples again went out among the crowd. Peter heard a crippled beggar, sitting outside the gate that led to the Temple, calling to him. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said,“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Now Jesus had done many miracles during his ministry, healing many who were sick or blind or crippled. This was the first the disciples had done since his crucifixion, in front of the crowds of people in Jerusalem. If you read carefully, you will see that the people who were healed by Jesus were also people who were excluded from the society, marginalized, discriminated against. Often when they were healed, Jesus told them to go and take their rightful place in the Temple society. He not only healed them of their afflictions, he healed them of their inequality. Although not citizens of Rome, they became citizens of the Kingdom of God through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit –and they could not be denied their rightful place.
When Peter healed the beggar, who had been kept outside the gates of the temple, the temple where you could worship with others in equality and dignity, where you could get work, he told him, “Get up and walk” and the man walked skipping and jumping into the temple from which he had been previously excluded!
Today, we are honoring the work of the Youth Health Service Corps at the Marine Leadership Academy. They learned important information about the conditions that take years of life from the people in our community: heart disease – which kills more people than any other disease – and more than gunshots or car accidents – Diabetes, breast cancer, Asthma and HIV/AIDS. They did this through our partnership with Rush Medical School because we got the medical students to volunteer, just as the high school students volunteered, working from their hearts.
Over two hundred people were screened. Those who had high blood pressure readings will be followed up on and we will get them access to further evaluation and treatment. Sometimes just taking one pill every day can prevent a heart attack or a stroke. Those subject to diabetes will likewise get appointments to begin taking care of that condition. Those vulnerable to breast cancer will receive free mammograms. The Youth Health Service Corps will assist in this follow-up and if there is a problem in getting the care they need they will join Familia Latina Unida in organizing to get them the health care they have a right to – as we did when we forced the system to provide transplants for undocumented people in need of them!
The Youth Health Service Corps is a partnership but it depends on these young people. That is why we say the Youth is not the Problem, the Youth is the Solution!
You see they are not only learning about health care and assisting their families and neighbors, they are fighting the 20 year death gap, the gap between those who do not have insurance and a regular doctor who gives them regular check-ups and those who do. Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for both African American Women and Latinas. Nearly 50% of African American women will have heart disease in their lifetimes. Latinas fall to heart disease ten years earlier then white women – and as with African Americans, they die at twice the rate of whites. Some of this is knowledge and prevention: half of our women don’t know the signs of heart disease and most do not know that heart attacks can be prevented by simple changes in diet, lifestyle – and early detection. Much of this death is because of lack of insurance and a regular doctor.
You see, the problem now as it was in the time of Jesus, is inequality. The main killer we face is not really heart disease or diabetes or cancer – it is inequality. The Youth Health Service Corps in not just providing access to prevention and health care, they are confronting inequality.
We see everyday how this inequality affects our community. We know that it especially affects the undocumented, the eleven million undocumented, the six million permanent residents and the one and one half million dreamers who are not eligible for the federally guaranteed or the state guaranteed health insurance. We are redoubling our efforts as Trump and the Congress cut their budget and exclude millions from health insurance. The Youth are providing healing as the disciples did. The youth are fighting inequality as the disciples did. And the youth are making a way for our community to live the Kingdom of God “on earth as it is in heaven.”
The truth is that after the disciples had baptized thousands they faced a great repression. Most of them were scattered with the people to different lands in the empire where they were persecuted because they were not citizens of the Roman Empire. But what the disciples did was to prepare them to form communities of faith and resistance in these places to which they were dispersed. In time, the Roman Empire fell – but those communities of faith and resistance survived. The gospel story, the Way provided by the ministry of Jesus and taught to his disciples, is given to those communities especially who have been driven to this nation from their homelands and who face discrimination here.
We are very proud that as we celebrate the work of the Youth Health Service Corps we also celebrate the work they have done in fighting the deportations and the unjust immigration laws. We had made real progress in this struggle and then Donald Trump was elected by a movement that wanted to make America White Again – a movement that targeted especially Latinos and the undocumented. Many went into hiding like the disciples after the crucifixion of Jesus. There has been a lot of fear – but there has also been a renewed resistance. Just as we walked this year with Jesus through his ministry of healing and proclamation, through his crucifixion and through his resurrection, we are regaining our strength and our faith and our resistance through the communities of faith we have learned to create.
I want to tell you that through the work of today’s disciples and through communities of faith and resistance like the one we begin today, we will survive the years of Donald Trump. We will do it because we understand the Power of Healing.
As we join together to fight the twenty year death gap caused by inequality in health care, we are finding our faith and our unity. Through these we will heal separated families and keep them together. We will heal families that are separated by the unjust law but also by the culture of individualism and selfishness and infidelity. We will see that the example of our young disciples, fighting for the life of their people, heals the violence that has been put into so many young hearts by the disrespect and abandonment they feel. you see, when you fight hard for life against injustice you don’t easily and unjustly take the lives of your people!
There was a great power in the healing of the crippled beggar. When the disciples were arrested they had to let them go because the people supported them – they supported them because they saw the healing they had achieved, the healing not only of the man’s legs but of the inequality that kept him outside the gates.
As the youth health service corps spreads across this city, an army is rising up. It is an army of young people who gain knowledge –some will become doctors or nurses. It is also an army of young people committed to fight inequality and injustice. It is an army that heals and brings us all unity and faith and courage.
When the disciples healed the beggar, when Peter told him “I have neither silver or gold, but stand up and walk”, he explained that the man was healed in the name of Jesus Christ, in the name of the innocent man who the Romans had murdered. Our young disciples today are healing in the name of the millions of innocent people who are facing deportation and discrimination. For they too are innocent in God’s eyes. They did not come here for the American Dream. They came for what the American nightmare did to their countries. God has planted them here, in this land, at this time, to be like Oaks of Righteousness, to transform this nation and to undo the inequality on which it was founded, on which it continues.
We are asking today for the young people born in this country, U.S. citizens with undocumented parents, to join with their friends and with the dreamers to organize six million strong across this country. They will take the case of their families to the court, to the White House and they will register those who are eligible to vote like them across the city. They will be your army.
They are the army rising up, healing in the name of Jesus, healing in the name of the innocent who are persecuted. Today as we ask them to stand up to receive their certificates and their t-shirts we ask you to hear them. The Holy Spirit is with them. And they are telling you “We have neither silver or gold but Stand Up And Walk, For God Is With You!”
Familia Latina Unida ministries will be holding services here every Saturday morning. We hope you will attend. This is one of the satellite locations of our main church in Pilsen. Our ministry is not in competition with other churches. In fact, we formed to provide a place of unity in our community. If you want to go to another church on Sundays, that is fine – but join us here in the movement for faith and resistance every Saturday. All are welcome at this table of communion. If you have given up on religion, that is o.k. too – we walk in the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples every year, renewing our faith, our unity and our struggle – and we remember that Jesus himself was crucified confronting the hypocrisy of religion. Every Saturday after service we will offer assistance in immigration issues and health issues.
Today we proclaim that there is power in healing in the name of Jesus, in the name of those who treated unjustly. When healing is aimed not only at sickness but at inequality, then God blesses it with the power of the Holy Spirit. That Sprit is with us today as we honor and appreciate and give our love to the youth health service corps!
The Holy Scriptures for the Second Week in the Time of Pentecost
L. Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
P. But be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
L. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—
P. His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Acts 3: 3-10 Peter Heals a Lame Beggar
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Acts 3: 11-15 Peter Speaks to the Onlookers
While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.