So what’s the big deal today? Why do Hispanics, and especially Mexican-Americans, always get so excited on May 5? Is it anything more than just an exercise in national pride and awareness and a chance to sell Coronas and margaritas?
May 5 actually commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862. During our own Civil War, Mexico had to suffer the indignity of being invaded by the French, who installed their own emperor, Maximilian, over the Mexican people. The little Mexican army took a strong position in Puebla and repelled repeated assaults by a larger and better-equipped French army. The military result was almost nil—after that temporary setback the French eventually took and controlled all of the state of Puebla. But the value to Mexican morale was enormous. President Juarez and the Mexicans were emboldened to fight on and eventually ousted the French completely in 1867. The memory of their heroic resistance makes all Hispanic peoples feel proud.
Cinco de Mayo is a great time for Christian ministries to pay renewed attention to the opportunities that Hispanic immigration presents. I have been listening to the arguments about immigration “reform” for many months now and honestly have to say that I hear strong points made on both sides. On the one hand, America has always been a land of immigrants. Emma Lazarus’ famous poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty articulates our national purpose as a haven of freedom and opportunity for all, especially those who arrive persecuted and poor. Our history sadly shows that those already here always seem to resent the next wave of immigrants.
On the other hand, the law is the law, and contempt for it will damage our social cohesion. A nation that has lost control of its borders will slide into chaos. If Congress is going to set immigration quotas as the law, then the law must be enforced or people will grow cynical about all law.
Here is where the church comes in. We can minister to people regardless of how they got here, regardless of your political views, regardless of their legal status. God loves to use the movements of people, especially mass movements, as opportunities for spreading the Gospel. De tal manera amó Dios al mundo, que ha dado a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo aquel que en él cree, no se pierda, mas tenga vida eterna.