O CORREIO ALAGOANA
An Response From Padre Cícero
My dearest child,
Like you, I have come to know the plight of the poorest in our society. Like yourself, I too hold dear to the words of Christ: "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40). Truly these words should ring throughout our nation, now in its hour of deepest need, as the poor cry out to the Heavens in agony, for it is not the Will of the Father that his children should suffer, but rather that they be happy and free, so that they may fulfill that ancient mandate: "Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28).
And yet despite the fact that this land is fruitful, with water and riches unlike any other on Earth, our people cannot multiply but their suffering, for the toil of the many serves only to line the pockets of the few, and the city and the country are filled with the miserable visages of impoverished men, locked in an earthly damnation that betrays the Rich's intentions and their true master, not our loving Father up in Heaven but rather someone below much darker and more sinister. These are strong words, my son, but every man that holds true to the teachings of Scripture can know them to be true.
And yet that knowledge is not enough, for God has come to Earth through his son and made clear that Faith requires action, that Salvation is a matter of deeds, not of knowledge or feelings. Truth and Love for our brothers are merely the guiding principles, but they alone fall woefully short of the Heavenly Mandate, for it is Written: "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." (2 James 2:14-18)
So then, we as Christians know well that Action is as central a part of our Faith as is Belief, but how can we go about it? The parties in Rio spend the money of the Poor in mass rallies, upholding the image of vain leaders as if they were saints, insulting everyone who hears these news as they suffer and toil with their families barely surviving in abject poverty. These new pagans worship their idols, as if their brothers weren't still out there, wanting for the resources so lavishly spent in glorifying a man. I know and understand the difficulty in loving these men, and yet, as a priest (but most importantly, as a Christian) I deplore that the situation has reached the point where throughout history the Poor have risen up, tired of being used as cattle, in rage and hatred of who is in the final analysis their fellow man.
I counsel you to take heed of the fact that the soldiers and policemen you fight are, for the most part, sons of poor mothers as much as you, and that God has instructed us to show them Love. I cannot condemn your violent actions, as long as they are carried out with discipline and respect for those not involved in combat, for I know the difficulties of life in the Sertao, but I cannot in good conscience advocate for them either. I am beholden to my Faith, and so it behooves me to be a soldier in the war for Peace. I recommend that you revisit the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans, especially chapter twelve, which deals with the manner in which Christians should fight evil through Love, and ends with this most wonderful of phrases, that should very well become the marching slogan of anyone seeking to join the fight for a better world: "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
As for your leader, I have followed his actions intently, and while I commend his efforts to steer his soldiers towards the Christian Faith, I recommend that he remember that even Lampiao, like the Caesars, is nothing but another man. If he should seek counsel tell him this: "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." These words are in the Gospel of Matthew, and I should hope that he reflects on them with seriousness.
As always, you and anyone else can count on me for spiritual guidance, and I shall do my best to administer it, through this medium or in the next.
Your Loving Father,
Padre Cícero Romão Batista.
"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2:19)
Letters to the editor are reviewed and published by Senhor Romeu de Avelar. Opinions belong to the author only.