Labels hide the truth …

As I loaded the bag of coffee beans into the grinder and gave thanks to God for the love of my daughter and son-in-law made visible in the gift of coffee beans, I wondered about the source of the beans. My investigation led me to something written by Jesús Henry Campos about the struggle for identity and future for the indigenous people of Cauca, Colombia, from whence the beans came. Jesús was concerned about “the reality faced by women and young people” in Cauca. His analysis of their situation highlights the struggle against drug trafficking, armed groups, forced recruitment, murder and domestic violence against women and the lack of opportunities for young people. 

Cardijn spoke to those who gathered for the first International Study Week of the YCW in Brussels in 1935 about the three truths: the truth of faith, the truth of experience and the truth of method. His starting point was his faith in God and it was his prayer and his hope that all young workers would acknowledge the truth of faith in their own lives also. He defined the truth of experience as “the terrible contradiction which exists between the real state of the young workers and this eternal and temporal destiny”, which is gifted to all by God and to be freely accepted. Looking for signs of the truth of faith in Campos’ writing – apart from his first name – I take heart in his hope for a better future for his people and for all people of the world, a future marked by equality, respect and opportunities to grow and develop in peace: all signs of the invisible grace of God at home in the world. 

Jesus, after whom Campos was named by his parents (This is my hope and prayer.), is the bridegroom. John the Baptist described him as such to his followers when they voiced their concern that Jesus was a more popular baptiser than their leader (John 3;22-30). John describes himself as the bridegroom’s “friend” (like the best man at a wedding?) and his comment at the conclusion of the Gospel reading for today’s Mass is worth noting: “He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.” John’s attitude lies at the heart of the truth of method. Whatever we do to judge experience in the light of faith, it must be done with the intention of following Christ. 

If Jesus is the bridegroom, then who is/are the bride? God came among us as one of us and his name is Jesus. He quoted from Isaiah one Sabbath in the synagogue in Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people” (Luke 4:18-19). So, the poor are the bride of Christ. And Jesus handed over his mission to his motley crew of lay people, his apostles. 

What needs to change in our world so that Jesus’ mission can continue until the whole of creation is claimed for God and every person alive welcomes the coming of God’s kingdom? What action can I take to help bring about what Jesús Henry Camos dreams for his people and works for each day? I need to learn more about the impact my love for good coffee has on people, particularly those who produce the coffee beans. The coffee I drank today came from a small farm located in a valley in Colombia. How direct is the route from the small farm to my cup of coffee? How does the business model adopted by the coffee roaster support the producer in Colombia? What part can coffee drinkers play in gaining justice for the coffee producers around the world, particularly in the Cauca region in Colombia? I have some questions to be answered next week when I visit the coffee roaster’s cafe.


Pat Branson


Read More

Radio Voces de Nuestra Tierra: Serving Indigenous Communities in Jambaló and northern Cauca, Colombia (Cultural Survival)

Joseph Cardijn, The Three Truths (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)