Written by Rhina M. Ramos
Romans: 8:14-15 Those who are led by the spirit of God are children of God. The Spirit you received doesn’t make you slaves. Otherwise you would live in fear again. Instead, the Holy Spirit you received made you God’s adopted child. By the Spirit’s power we call God Ababa. Abba means Father.
Paul writes the letter to the Christian community in Rome in the year 50 CE. Rome was the heart of the Empire. Most likely, those early Jesus’ followers living there were exposed to persecution. In Romans, Paul reminds the community that “they have been adopted by God and that they are fully God’s children.” This is a timely and vital message for the new believers of Jesus who had declared, “if you believe in me you will known truth, and truth will set you free.”
However, we need to ask ourselves: were these new believers able to embrace their freedom? Could they accept Paul’s call not to live in fear even as they faced persecution?
I am sure that anyone who is under the boot of an oppressor wants to breath freely. But how can we open ourselves up to receive the gifts of God?
I believe that there are many ways in which we respond to historic periodic oppression. When I first moved to the United States from El Salvador, I was 14 years old. I was constantly reminded I was an outsider with no rights. Teachers would mock my attempts to speak English. Other kids and adults would tell my brother and I to go back to our country if we dared to speak Spanish. In order to survive this continuous rejection, I isolated myself from the secular “American society.” I refused to speak in class when I began attending college. It wasn’t until I began law school in New York that I had to come out of my protective shell. Encouraged by dear friends, I started claiming my right to be free even if the world around me wasn’t ready to receive an immigrant warrior.
Similarly for trans and queer folks accepting their call to empower themselves is not a simple request. Trans woman particularly Black and Latinx are exposed to vicious and unquestioned violence everyday. Their existence in and of itself is an act of resistance in a trans-phobic and homophobic society. Other sectors of the queer community need to stand in solidarity with our siblings so that their freedom can be a reality.
Freedom is a place where we, the oppressed, want to arrive and rest after walking under the agonizing heat of hate. However, for many of us, realizing our divinity and reclaiming our human dignity are a journey of several detours. Many of us will need therapy to heal our wounded selves. We will need prayer and the love of faith communities that trully see us. Many of us will need the patience of our young selves to accept we are not to blame for our oppression and pain.
Prayer: God, please, allow us to feel the breaking of the chains of our free divine spirit. Amen.