March 29, Sunday
Men and Women for Others
Five weeks in the desert and the end is almost in sight. Jerusalem. The City on the Hill. Elie Wiesel called it “the face visible yet hidden, a name, a secret.” At first sight of the city walls, we rush forward, but here at the gate, we halt, suddenly afraid.
The final Jesuit/Ignatian value for our consideration this Lent is our commitment to developing Men and Women for Others. Chris Kerr, the executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, starts us off by calling our attention to the 25th anniversary of the deaths of the El Salvador martyrs.
Sunday Readings - Week 6
A procedural note: our reflections and prayers will refer to the Sunday readings for the week, not the daily readings.
God, in Solidarity with Our Suffering
by Christopher Kerr
This past November marked the 25th anniversary of the murders of the six Jesuit priests and their two lay companions, killed in El Salvador on November 16, 1989. The Jesuits committed their lives to the people of El Salvador, people who were marginalized by poverty and injustice. Of course there were others who came before them: Archbishop Romero; the Churchwomen; Rutilio Grande, SJ; not to mention the 70,000 innocent civilians who died during El Salvador’s 12-year civil war.
How could God allow these people — who were so committed to the reality of their brothers and sisters — to be killed?
Such a question could make us wonder if God cares about our suffering. Every day in the news we hear stories of people suffering from sickness, violence, acts of greed and selfishness. At the same time, others are spared, just as Barabbas was.
What must have it been like to see the Son suffer so brutally? It is through Christ’s death on the cross that we can come to understand God’s ultimate companionship and love for us in the face of suffering. God’s example is a model for accompanying our suffering brothers and sisters, for walking with them in solidarity amid their joys and their suffering.
Jon Sobrino, SJ, one of a few Jesuits at the University of Central America who was not murdered on that night in 1989, lost eight close friends and colleagues. He often talks about the martyrs’ total commitment to the suffering people of El Salvador. It’s been frequently noted that the Jesuits, Romero, and others knew full well that they could be killed, yet they stayed present to the people, regardless of the danger. This is the depth of God’s love for us. God is fully committed to being with us through all our suffering, unconditionally.
Dios, en solidaridad con nuestro sufrimiento
Por: Christopher Kerr
Este noviembre pasado marcó el 25º aniversario del asesinato de los seis sacerdotes Jesuitas y de sus dos compañeros laicos, muertos en El Salvador el 16 de noviembre de 1989. Los Jesuitas dedicaron sus vidas a la gente de El Salvador, gente que fue marginada por la pobreza y la injusticia. Por supuesto hubieron otros antes que ellos: Arzobispo Romero, las mujeres de la Iglesia, Rutilio Grande, SJ, sin mencionar los 70.000 civiles inocentes que murieron durante los 12 años de guerra civil de El Salvador.
¿Cómo podría permitir Dios que esta gente — que estaba tan comprometida con la realidad de sus hermanos y hermanas — fuese asesinada?
Preguntas de este tipo pueden hacer que nos cuestionemos si a Dios le importa nuestro sufrimiento. Todos los días escuchamos historias en los noticieros de gente que sufre debido a enfermedades, violencia, actos de avaricia y egoísmo. Al mismo tiempo, otros están a salvo, exactamente como Barrabás lo estuvo.
¿Cómo debe haber sido ver al Hijo sufrir tan brutalmente? Es a través de la muerte de Cristo en la cruz, que comprendemos el sumo compañerismo y amor de Dios por nosotros en el sufrimiento. El ejemplo de Dios es un modelo a seguir para acompañar a nuestros hermanos y hermanas que sufren, para caminar con ellos solidariamente en medio de sus alegrías y de sus sufrimientos.
Jon Sobrino, SJ, uno de los pocos Jesuitas en la Universidad de América Central, que no fue asesinado esa noche en el año 1989, perdió ocho grandes amigos y colegas. Él habla, generalmente, del compromiso total de los mártires con el sufrimiento de la gente de El Salvador. Ha sido notado frecuentemente el hecho de que los Jesuitas, Romero y otros sabían muy bien que podrían ser asesinados, sin embargo estuvieron presentes para la gente, a pesar del peligro. Esta es la profundidad del amor de Dios por nosotros. Dios está completamente comprometido a estar con nosotros en todo nuestro sufrimiento, incondicionalmente.
Christopher Kerr is the executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, a national social justice education and advocacy organization inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Chris joined ISN in 2011, but has been involved with Catholic education and social justice advocacy for over 15 years, working for Jesuit and other faith-based institutions. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from John Carroll University in Cleveland.
you who sent your Son to live with us
and to die for us as one of us,
help us respond to your love.
Give us the chance to again seek you
in the violence of this world;
give us the ability
to stay present to suffering and darkness in others,
And in those moments of darkness
help us to remember our experience of love, joy and light.
A man or woman for others. Does this not contradict the very nature of the human person? Are we not each a “being-for-ourselves?” Gifted with intelligence that endows us with power, do we not tend to control the world, making ourselves its center? Is this not our vocation, our history?
Yes; gifted with conscience, intelligence and power each of us is indeed a center. But a center called to go out of ourselves, to give ourselves to others in love — love, which is our definitive and all-embracing dimension, that which gives meaning to all our other dimensions. Only the one who loves fully realizes himself or herself as a person. To the extent that any of us shuts ourselves off from others we do not become more a person; we become less.
Anyone who lives only for his or her own interests not only provides nothing for others, he or she does worse. They tend to accumulate in exclusive fashion more and more knowledge, more and more power, more and more wealth; thus denying, inevitably to those weaker than themselves, their proper share of the God-given means for human development.
: Pedro Arrupe, SJ
The virtue of solidarity is not a private feeling of empathy or friendship with people whom we know well or the poor person we happen to meet on our life's journey ... It realizes that the quality of our lives is intrinsically linked with the quality of the lives of others.
: Paul Locatelli, SJ
Stale godliness is ungodliness. Let our religion be as warm, and constant, and natural as the flow of the blood in our veins. A living God must be served in a living way.
: Charles H. Spurgeon
The Hidden World (Bruce W. Berry, Jr.)
The Feeling Begins: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (P. Gabriel)
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