Ever the provocateur, I posed this question: "In our country, we demand that justice reach to the heavens when people fail to report sexual abuse (Catholic Church, Penn State), and we assign life sentences to those who would defraud us of money (Bernie Madoff)...yet why is it that those in charge can order the murder of six priests, a housekeeper, and her daughter and remain unpunished?" This question, framed on a day when we recall in a special way the Jesuits executed for responding to the Gospel, is easily broadened to ask why we do not cry out and demand justice for all those innocent lives lost during this conflict.
Yesterday, I taught my sophomores about Jesus' "mission statement" in Luke's Gospel:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim a year of the Lord." (Luke 4: 18-19)True today as it was 2,000 years ago, if you proclaim this message you must face the consequences of speaking the Truth: death.
Death is not the cause of martyrdom. It is the consequence. These Jesuits and countless others lived out their love of Jesus Christ by bringing His Good News to an oppressed and languishing people, bringing sight to the blind, and proclaiming the inbreaking of God's liberating reign. For this, they were rewarded with bullets in their brains.
O God, give me the courage and strength
to be worthy of being called a Christian.
~ Karl Rahner, SJ
Martyrs of El Salvador - known and unknown - Pray for Us.