|Feast of St. Andrew Bobola,
Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
Unless you are somewhat familiar with the Jesuit heritage, the name Andrew Bobola probably falls off your radar screen. I first learned about him when I was still a youngster and I was shocked by the cruelty of the torture inflicted on him by his Cossack captors. I will not repeat here those details, or even summarize his ordeal, because it might distract us from the deeper meaning of his martyrdom. You can find a detailed account in Joseph N. Tylenda’s Jesuit Saints and Martyrs (Loyola University Press, 1984).
When as a retreat director I recommend to a retreatant to pray over the Lord’s passion and death, I urge the person to penetrate below the details of the cruel treatment inflicted on Jesus and to look at it from the Lord’s own heart. The liberating lesson of the Lord’s passion is to be found at Gethsemane, before he had to undergo any of those cruel sufferings. It is at Gethsemane where Jesus commits himself to remaining faithful to the Father’s understanding of his mission at any cost. But he did not name the price. The price was named by his enemies and in them by all of us. The details of his suffering were not his choice, the commitment to remain faithful at any cost was. And he sustained that stance unto death.
Andrew Bobola did not choose to undergo the gruesome torture inflicted on him either. But he did choose a stance of fidelity to God and a commitment to his faith at any cost, and he sustained that stance unto death. The anticipation of his capture was his Gethsemane and there, very much against the grain, he renewed his commitment to faithfulness.
It is in Andrew’s stance, more so than in the specifics of his martyrdom,
that a lesson is offered to us. It is unlikely that the cost of our
own fidelity will ever parallel his, and we may easily wax romantic imagining
heroic sacrifices on our side that will never occur. More realistically
our living consistently with the faith we profess will at times make us
be seen by some as not “cool” or not “in,” which can hurt enough when one
values peer acceptance, even if it does not look like heroic martyrdom.
What we can learn from Andrew Bobola’s suffering —and from the Lord’s passion
and death— is what preceded the unfolding of that martyrdom: the unwavering
faithfulness to one’s faith commitment and to God’s calling at any
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook