Commentary on Mark 5:21-43
[Editor’s note: The author has read this text from the perspective of an immigrant, pairing the events of the gospel with the events of our time, imagining the gospel taking into account our own social situation.]
María de los Ángeles and her daughter Gloria lived in a very difficult situation in Central America. Their city was ruled by the local gangs and the state had not much power in the daily activities of the city. The gangs were made of boys and men who grew up in U.S. and were caught without document and sent back to their families. In U.S., they had learned to organize in gangs to protect themselves and this was all they knew. Thrown back to their families’ hometown they only had those skills to survive. Drug peddling (with the U.S. as a high consumer) difficult local economies, corrupt governments and erosion of basic social threads have created a complex system of which gangs have become a fundamental part.
María’s husband, Manuel, had gone to the U.S. but disappeared. They hadn’t had any news from him in about three years now. Knowing that María was alone with Gloria, gangs demanded her to cook for them. One day a group of drunken gang members went to her house while Gloria was at school and they raped María. It took a few days until María was able to get out of bed. Gloria was 6 years old and had to cook and clean and take care of her mother, not knowing why her mother was prostrate and barely speaking during these days.
When María was able to get up, she contacted a smuggler, a coyote, and made a deal with him to get her to the U.S. where she was still hoping to find Manuel and start a new life. She knew the gangs would come back and that that atrocious act would be common from now on. She didn’t have any money, but she sold the few things she had to make some cash and gave her house to the coyote as a payment for her crossing toward the U.S. She had to take la bestia, the train of death that crosses from Central America to the borders between Mexico and the U.S. She packed a bag and the only thing Gloria could take was a doll she loved.
The whole trip was scary and Gloria kept asking María to go back home. Gloria couldn’t sleep at night and when she did, her nightmares were filled with angry men around her and her mother. Her deepest fear was to lose her mother. One night she woke up all wet. Her mother asked her what happened and she said “Mama, soñé que te habían secuestrado. ¿Mama, por qué llevaron tan lejo de mí?” (“Mom, I dreamed that they had kidnapped you. Why did they take you away from me?”) María comforted her from her heart saying that she would never be taken away from Gloria. The travel to the border took days until they were taken to the big river called Rio Grande. They were to swim to the other side but neither of them knew how to swim. They were given floaters but Gloria was screaming out of fear. María had to hold her tight against her body and sing her a song she always loved when going to bed:
A la nanita nana nanita ella nanita ella
Mi niña tiene sueno bendito sea, bendito sea
Fuentecita que corre clara y sonora
Ruiseñor que en la selva cantando llora
Calla mientras la cuna se balansea
A la nanita nana, nanita ella
Mi niña tiene sueno bendito sea, bendito sea1
The coyotes were screaming and being violent because they were missing the point and the time to cross. It was dark and the only light was the moon. The water was cold; shaking, María held Gloria tight as they entered the water. Before they figured they wouldn’t sink because of the floaters, they got panicked and started screaming. Other people started screaming as well. Some people were drowning but the coyotes kept repeating ándale ándale ándale! (“Come on!”)
All the effort proved to be ineffective this time. La Migra (Customs and Border Patrol) was waiting for them in the other side with dogs and heavy guns. A helicopter came and the noise was even scarier than crossing Rio Grande. María and Gloria got to the other side together but as soon as they got there, officers separated them and placed them in different cars. At that time, María screamed with her entire lungs begging “Devuelve a mi hija! Mija! Mija! No te preocupes, iré a por ti mi amor, no te preocupes! Hace tus oraciónes cada vez que tengas miedo y cante nuestra canción!” (“Bring back my daughter! My baby! My baby! Don’t worry, I will come for you, my love! Don’t worry! Say your prayers every time you are afraid and sing our song!)
All María could hear from Gloria was “¡Madre! ¡Mamá! por favor dame mi mamá!” (“Mother! Mommy! Please give me my mommy!”)
Shivering, they were taken to different private jails and left there for a long time. María didn’t speak much and never left her cage besides going to the bathroom. Some lawyers did pro-bono work to help immigrants and Nancy was able to visit María. In her first conversation, María could barely speak. Nancy was counselled not to waste her time with those immigrant people since that wouldn’t lead anywhere, but it was work that kept her alive. She went to visit María every week and all María could say was “¿Dónde está mi hija?” (“Where is my daughter?”) Nancy was the only person that attended to María and she tried to find Gloria.
It was a long process and Nancy heard that Gloria was not to be found anywhere. However, she didn’t tell María. It took 12 months for Nancy to find Gloria. She was in a children’s facility in Sonora, Mexico. Nancy went to visit Gloria. She was skinny, barely spoke and was very sick. The doctors didn’t know how to animate her. Nancy went to her and said: “Gloria, yo soy Nancy y sé dónde está tu madre” (“Gloria, my name is Nancy and I know where your mother is”). Gloria jumped out of her bed and asked: “Donde está mi mama?” (“Where is my mommy?”) Nancy said: “She is a bit far from here but I will get you with her soon. But if you want to see your mama you need to eat.”
They hugged and cried and Gloria started to eat. They took a selfie and Nancy went back to the prison where María was and said: “María, tu hija está bien. Mira esta foto.” (Maria, your daughter is OK, look at this picture.) At that time, María felt a gush of life running through her body and the bleeding of her heart finally stopped. They hugged and Maria cried for almost an hour in Nancy’s chest. “Very soon Maria, very soon…” Nancy said to María.
1. “A La Nanita Nana,” http://thebirdsings.com/a-la-nanita-nana/