When I am on call for work, any hour of the day I could get a call from our students on Service and Justice Trips around the country. They may need anything from a point of contact to an emergency room visit. This being on call and reflecting with today’s Gospel made me hyper aware of my daily actions. My alertness and anxiety levels were high.
Reflecting on my faith life that week, I could find similar comparisons. I became aware of the things that can easily go unnoticed: attending Mass, daily prayers of gratitude and wonder, the beautiful fall weather, a sip of hot coffee or time with family. I attended community organizing meetings, visited a group of immigrant women in detention, but did not feel the prophetic or urgency as compared to my work and this feeling of being “on call.” Unless we are called to really notice what we are doing, why and how we do it, it may be too normal. If I do not take the time to unpack things in prayer they can fail to give meaning.
Luke’s Gospel talks of the flood and other end times coming while people were in the middle of life. We know the shock that an unexpected death can leave us with. We also can experience the joy of something wonderful such as a healthy baby coming almost a month early. These events in the middle of life call us to take inventory and make sure that our lives and values are congruent.
Today is an important anniversary in Ignatian circles. It is the 23rd anniversary of the UCA martyrs. The six Jesuit Community members and two companions killed at the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas” in 1989 on this date did more than live their lives with a heightened state of awareness. They were grounded in their Catholic faith, a faith that cannot conceive of a life that is not lived on behalf of the poor and marginalized. This faith demands not only service, but the changing of social structures for the full flourishing of all life. The UCA martyrs knew that living the Gospel in their time and place meant being with the poor and persecuted in El Salvador. They sent their students out to the countryside to take the pulse of the communities surviving during the civil war. As a University, they saw their role to tell the world of the horrors of a brutal war. In spite of the risk made evident by death threats, they continued their work, published reports and spoke out. Their privilege did not make them immune to the anguish the Salvadorans faced, instead they offered their skills, resources and voice to a suffering people.
The military battalion that killed the UCA martyrs sought to end their work, to silence their prophetic nature. Instead it has brought vocations to the Jesuits, called us all to a deeper living out of this same call. Today thousands of Jesuit university and high school students, parish members and Jesuit Volunteers gather in Washington D.C. as part of the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice to work to spread the message of these martyrs, to network with each other and to work for the common good. Let us pray for them and for ourselves that we may to have the courage to follow in the example of Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín Baró, Segundo Montes, Joaquín López y López, Amando López, Juan Ramón Moreno, Elba and Celina Ramos.
"The struggle against injustice and the pursuit of truth cannot be separated nor can one work for one independent of the other." Ignatio Ellacuría, S.J. Murdered superior of Jesuit community at the UCA
For more information on the El Salvadoran Martyrs, click here.