We arrived in San Cristobal de las Casas early this afternoon. After checking into our hotel and having lunch, we spent some time at the market here. The entire group met up to go to church together at 7:00 p.m. The bells started ringing about 20 minutes before mass began. We walked from our hotel across the plaza to the Cathedral on the other side. On our way we saw a classic scene from México: a band playing in the gazebo in the center of the plaza and people all around enjoying a beautiful evening.
Our mission team is diverse in religious perspectives, but we were all together at mass. In a way, that reflects the larger work of our team. Each one of us brings a unique gift and talent and we work together toward a common goal.
The Gospel reading at mass today was about Jesus’ call to the first apostles. The other readings emphasized that the time to serve God is now. Life is short and we are called to make the most of the time we’ve been given.
Bishop Felipe Arizmendi was the presider at mass tonight. His message was about building the Kingdom of God which is not some far off place, but exists where there is holiness and grace, peace and justice, faith and love. He challenged us to move beyond words to put our faith into action. It seemed appropriate given our work here.
It is clear that this bishop is loved by the people as was the bishop before him who strongly defended the rights of the poor in the face of injustice. After mass, people quickly moved to the front of the church where the bishop was tracing a cross in blessing on the foreheads of all who had gathered around him in a large circle. Nancy, Jody and I also made our way up followed by many other members of the team. When the bishop came around to see us, we introduced ourselves and explained that we were here on a medical mission. We asked for his prayers for each of us and for our mission. He asked where we were from and expressed his gratitude and appreciation for what we were doing.
Seeing his connection with the people and hearing his call to build the Kingdom, it seemed a blessing in itself to be able to connect with the bishop and tell him about our work here. I am grateful for his prayers, but especially for all of the people back home praying for us and our work.