From a Creighton Student's Perspective
November 16, 2011
3rd Year Law Student
For me, this time of year can be a drag. The plants seem to have died; the cold has set in; the sun sets long before I begin to make dinner; and unlike the last five weeks of the year, the festivity and joyful anticipation of the Advent season has not begun to bring me much-needed cheer. This week’s physical environment seems to suit an anniversary of certain seriousness and solemn remembrances for me. This week many in the Creighton community will remember the paths that the people of El Salvador endured during their bloody civil war; including the execution of the six Salvadoran Jesuits, their community worker, and her young daughter. This week marks the 22nd anniversary of that tragic event.
What does it mean to lay down my life; to disregard my own interests for the sake of God’s work through my being? The martyred Jesuits knew the dangers they faced due to the previous killings of Catholic priests in the country. But they continued to denounce war, poverty and violence as “social sin.” They knew the tragedies around them were unjust, immoral and impractical, but they went further and named systemic injustice as a violation of God’s will, as blasphemy and idolatry. Their deaths remain one of the greatest tragedies of Catholic priests in a lifetime, but every year we “represent” their memories and mission by joyfully walking towards Christ while the violent and unforgiving world attempts to harden our hearts. The Jesuit martyrs remind us that life is short. Their blood calls us to wake up, practice a mature Christianity, use our talents wisely, and spend our days working on behalf of the world’s poor. Their deaths warn us not to waste the precious time we have been given. They cry out: Seek God! Love one another! Serve the least, hunger and thirst for justice, and make peace while there is still time.
Finally, the Jesuit martyrs invite us to be people of true hope; the essence of our Christian identity. They avoided the cheap hope so common in our comfortable, apathetic culture. Instead, the martyrs point us to the hope of Jesus on the cross, the hope that comes close to despair, the hope that pursues justice and peace even though it seems so futile. The martyrs teach us to place our hope in God, and so to know that the outcome, the results of our work, are in God’s hands. As we learn this hard lesson, we find the strength to give our lives too for a new world without war, poverty, and everyday violence; whether or not we live to see the fruit of our work. We go forward in hope, even joy, when we represent and celebrate their lives this week because we know that their earthly words and actions have been given new breath and life by our Creator.
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