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UNITED STATES: Religion and Mexican Americans

Few Americans realize that today, January 6, is the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrating the day when Christ was presented to the Wise Men. Even secular Americans should appreciate the holiday, which celebrates the respect money and wealth pay should pay to the virtues which distinguish us from animals. The animals which paid homage to the infant Christ are fictions invented by St. Francis.

The day means a lot to Mexicans and Mexican Americans. In New York it was celebrated with a street procession featuring one camel for the Three Wise Men. Somewhat crowded, it would seem. In the Cathedral of San Fernando in San Antonio, Texas, the three Wise Men, all dressed up, went to the altar to py homage to a baby in its mother's arms. It is also children's day, commemorating the massacre of the Innocents by Herod, the villain of the day. A family calling itself Los Inocentes trains children to pay the guitar in church. They are called "los Patricios" in honor of Bishop Patricio, who has collected 5,000 guitars to give to the Patricios, who are to play in the churches of his diocese. They are amateurish but delightful. The Bishop is trying to save children. He related his visit to a youth in death row, who told him sadly that he had killed his parents and siblings to get money to buy drugs.

After this morally beautiful ceremony, it was a shock to return to the real world, where in Ontario, California, President Bush had wowed a roaring mob by declaring vehemently that taxes would only be increased over his dead body. Read my lips, as his father said. In New York, Michael Bloomberg spent $70 m (!!) of his own money to be elected mayor. His first act was to announce that he had ordered a 20% cut in his staff, and he asked the rest of the city government to do likewise. In plain English, follow my example and fire people. He would have done better to spend the $70m on his poor victims. It sounds more like Herod than the Wise Men. There is something crazy about our system and fundamentally wrong in human nature. A hockey team with the sweet name "The Sharks" was electrifying the roaring crow by whacking its rivals. I think I will go back into the church.

Meanwhile there is a strange phenomenon among Mexican Americans. Many are converting to Islam, as are some blacks. The terror of September 11 has not affected their choice of a faith which seems to promote violence. The Spanish Church has always been hostile to Islam, and the Mexican Church does not admire it. To this add the conversion of some Mexicans to Protestantism. The service in San Fernando featured a fraternal embrace by all the people there. How much fraternity will there be among the three groups of Mexican Americans?

Ronald Hilton - 1/6/02