In Mexico there is a very popular Catholic church, the church of Acatlán, that’s located in a town of about 20,000. The priest, named Father Juan Ramon Hernandez, started delivering sermons incorporating the controversy of the Mexican drug cartels and how the Mexican people should take the initiative to help stop spreading the message of violence. One of the techniques in his sermon is a special object lesson, in which he asks all the children that have a toy gun to throw it on the middle of the stage symbolizing that of throwing the weapons and violence away, and then he continues to use his own large squirt gun and sprayed the first few rows of his congregation with holy water and then throw it away.
I want to analyze this course of action, since I’m unable to find the entire sermon of what he actually said online. But I’m going to analyze why I believe he decided to create this sermon, how he delivered it, and if it was effective or not.
Well to start off with the question why, I think, in fact I know, this sermon was created to demonstrate a protest against the violence of the Mexican drug cartels. If he’s able to reach the minds of 20,000 people in that town, he could make some kind of impact in Mexico. He knows he’s a man with an influential position, and with a passionate love for his own country, he will do what he can to fight (for lack of a better word) for the cause of saving the life of his fellow countrymen. Now why did he use toy water guns as an example?
He could have used images (photos/pictures), a story, scripture passage, or other things. I believe it’s to make the people feel like they’re involved in this war too, not only that they are victims of it, but that they are able to instigate change and create more hope. By doing a live enactment of getting rid of the gun, and so to speak, throw away the violence, one could experience that feeling of a burden being lifted off one’s shoulders. There’s many experiments done like these in which psychologists say by doing something drastic, you’re getting rid of a part of that lifestyle that was corrupting you or making you unhappy. But these are all just notions of why he may have thought to do this, we do not know since we are not inside his head.
I read the comments on some of the videos that showed the Father doing this, and a couple that stuck out to me were:
“Pathetic why?, For me is a way to tell my people, that weapons should not be used to kill, but to bless the people…”
“It takes a humble person to often start a revolution of ideas and hope. Let’s not be hard on Father Hernandez, his hearts and motives are in the right place.”
And my last point was to find out if it was effective or not. Well from what little I could find, I believe it was somewhat effective. More people have joined his congregation to see what the buzz is all about, and this story made it into U.S. news. So even though it wasn’t national headlines, there’s at least 18,000 views of YouTube hits from this story, and 20,000 people in that town where the church is located. So I’m thinking 38,000 people being influenced from this humble story is more effective than 1 person hearing about it.
What do you guys think?
U.S.: NEWS STORY
MEXICO: ACTUAL RECORDING OF THE SERMON