We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. – 1 John 2:3-6 (NIV)
On this day, in 1900, “the U.S. ended its military occupation of Puerto Rico and attempted to define the island’s position within the federal orbit.” That definition has included territorial status as well as a non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives via the Foraker Act of 1900. (More history can be read in this essay on the History, Art, and Archives: United States House of Representatives.)
Today—121 years later—Puerto Rico is still represented by a single non-voting resident commissioner in the U.S. Congress. Often referred to as the oldest colony in the world, Puerto Rico continues to be a colony of the United States.
Why should this matter on this second Monday of Easter?
Because as Christians, we profess to follow a Resurrected Christ who came to speak against oppression, empire and the colonial system that eventually executed him.
Because as a Resurrection People, we are called to speak life into dead spaces and liberation from the grip of death-dealing policies, economic systems and military control.
Because none of us are truly free until all of us are truly free. ¡Ya Basta!
Gracias, Dios de Amor, for sending your Spirit to nudge us out of complacency, complicity and privilege. Help us to remember Jesus’ example and to use our voice and our vote to enact justice for Puerto Rico and all those who are oppressed and disenfranchised intentionally and systemically. Amen.
Marilyn Pagán-Banks (she/her/ella) is a queer womanist freedom fighter gratefully (though not always gracefully) serving as executive director of A Just Harvest, Senior Pastor at San Lucas UCC, and adjunct professor at McCormick Theological Seminary. She is a joyful contributor to The Words of Her Mouth.