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PASCHAL HOPE IN TIMES OF CRISIS

PASCHAL HOPE IN TIMES OF CRISIS
Let is live in hope – There is a substantial difference between hope and optimism – Optimism – like pessimism – is a waning sentiment that we create, that comes and goes – Hope is a gift from outside – It is a gift from a Crucified Love so inconceivable that it transformed pain, sorrow and death into Resurrection – Christian theology tells us that Hope is one of the three theological virtues – hence, ¡pure gift! – We either accept it or reject it – Hope is abiding, optimism wanes – In these difficult and sometimes agonic times, let us choose to live in hope
Blessed Easter to all!
Sixto

JESUS RISEN: THE MYSTERY OF RUPTURE IN CONTINUITY

The Resurrection of Jesus: The Mystery of Rupture in Continuity
      The Resurrection of Jesus defines the Christian mystery par excellence: Continuity in Rupture – or, if one wishes to reverse the terms, Rupture in Continuity.
    On the one hand, the Resurrection of Jesus IS NOT a “return” to life – Jesus never “returns” to life – that is, he never “returns” to the moment where he was at the moment of death – to his previous life, limited by space, time, pain and death – rather, he enters into a new life! – His risen humanity is the New Creation, the New History, the New Humanity!
     On the other hand, the humanity of the Risen One is also the humanity of the Crucified – It is the full humanity of the Jesus who perambulated through the hills of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem, who disputed, laughed, wept – FURTHERMORE
     Traditional Christian iconography, which portrays the triumphant Jesus bearing the scars of the Passion on his hand and side, has not erred – The wounds of Jesus have become an integral – radical, essential – part of his Risen humanity – Those very symbols of pain, of death, of the seemingly overwhelming power of evil, have now been transformed into the symbols of new life, the New Creation, the New Humanity – of Christian hope and love (cf. Thomas Aquinas, “Summa Theologiae, III q. 54 a. 4) – “Jesus took his wounds to heaven” (Pope Francis, speech to the community of Poor Clares, Assisi, Oct. 4, 2013)
     Yes, indeed, Jesus has taken his wounds to heaven – because now those wounds, inflicted by hatred, rejection, by the fullness of evil, have become an essential – essential! – part of his Risen humanity! – Or, to put it in another way: it would be theologically absurd, inconceivable, to think of the triumphant Jesus, sitting at the right hand of the Father, without his wounds – If such were the case, we might suspect that we have not been redeemed, renewed, healed  – if indeed, the wounds of all the crucified of human history, can indeed be eve redeemed, receive justice, be renewed by love.
       And, if the wounds of Jesus now define His total, risen reality, such will be ours – Hatred, war, racism, the structures of poverty, persecutions, will not have the last word – All that pain and misery will be transformed in essential dimensions of our risen humanity, in the very reality of our resurrection.
       The Resurrection of Jesus is NOT an act of divine magic – It is the moment of that infinite, universal love that transforms all – the only source of life – Jesus risen is the definitive Word of the Father that demands conversion to a vulnerable, risky – subversive! – communion of life with Him – The Word that Jesus speaks – the Word that Jesus IS – requires a response – There where His Word and our response meet, we are constituted as full human beings!
      Let us, then, make ours the thrice-sung troparion of the Greek Eastern Church:
      Christos anesti, alethos anesti! – Christ is risen, truly, He is risen!
Sixto
“Cor ad Cor loquitur”

ST. OSCAR ROMERO

ST. OSCAR ROMERO – 40 years ago, on the eve of his assassination, Oscar Romero, the prophet, spoke:
” would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the army, and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the police, and the garrisons. Brothers, you belong to our own people. You kill your own brother peasants; and in the face of an order to kill that is given by a man, the law of God that says ‘Do not kill!’ should prevail.

“No soldier is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God. No one has to comply with an immoral law. It is the time now that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin. . . . Therefore, in the name of God, and in the name of this long-suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven every day more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you! In the name of God: ‘Cease the repression!’”

Oscar Romero, like so many shepherds, committed laity – Christian prophets and martyrs before him, and since, chose to fully live his preferential option for the poor, rather than dwell within the spaces of fear and power that many of his brother bishops in El Salvador lived at the time – and that many of his brother bishops, priests and laity continue to dwell in –
Whenever the poor, the migrant, the victims of racism and humiliation, raise their clamor, only to be met with silence by those whose mission is to be their advocates, their voices, the face and voice of Saint Oscar Romero should be seen and heard – Saint Oscar Romero, pray for us before the Lord Jesus, whose Gospel you upheld ab above the inhuman, excluding, murderous laws of our opulent societies – Change the hearts of those bishops – sadly, too many of them – of priests, of parish people, silent in the face of injustice, hiding themselves behind the cry “It’s the law,” while ignoring the higher Law that you gave your life for, change their hearts, here in Florida and everywhere, to the clamor of the victims, loosen their tongues that they may be the voice of the voiceless.

RUTILIO GRANDE, S.J., SUBVERSIVE MARTYR, PROPHET, SAINT

RUTILIO GRANDE, S.J.: SUBVERSIVE MARTYR, PROPHET, SAINT
This past Friday, February 21, pope Francis approved a decree declaring Fr. Rutilio Grande, S.J., and two lay catechists assassinated with him, martyrs, thereby paving the way for their beatification. It was Fr. Rutilio who kindled Oscar Romero´s prophetic fires and love for the poor and the oppressed.
Below I share – with the necessary changes, a reflection I wrote 4 years ago. I begin the reflection with quotes from Rutilio´s last homily:

“It is dangerous to be a Catholic in our own environment! It is dangerous to be truly Catholic! . . . This is because the world around us is founded on a radically established disorder to which the mere proclamation of the Gospel is SUBVERSIVE (capitals mine). And this is how you have to be, you can´t be different! We are chained to a disorder, not an order . . .
“Woe to you, hypocrites, who call yourselves Catholics but inside are full of filth and evil! You Cains crucifiy the Lord who walks with the name of Manuel, with the name of Luis, with the name of Chabela, with the name of the humble worker in the field!
“I am afraid, my brothers and sisters, that very quickly the Bible and the Gospel will not be allowed to enter through our borders. The bindings of the book will no longer be allowed because all of its pages are SUBVERSIVE! (capitals mine), Subversive against sin, naturally! . . . Brothers, they would undoubtedly crucify him (Christ) again. And they have said so.”
Fr. Rutilio Grande, S. J., February 13, 1977, just 27 days before his assassination.

Rutilio Grande was born on July 5, 1928, in El Paisnal, El Salvador, the youngest of six, of a poor family. From the age of 12 to 17, he studied at the bachillerato (high school) Seminary, and upon graduation entered the Jesuit novitiate in Venezuela. He did his humanities (juniorate) in Quito, Ecuador, and then pursued theological studies at the Seminary of San José de la Montaña, where he originally befriended fellow student Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the future Archbishop and fellow martyr. Ordained to the priesthood in 1959, he pursued studies in Spain, 1959-1965, and 1962-65.
This second stage of his studies in Spain was very defining moment of maturity of his theological and pastoral thought. He took a course on Vatican II at the Lumen Vitae Institute in Brussels, that broadened his liturgical and pastoral horizons, by insisting in the most intense and developed lay participation in the liturgy. It was, as Thomas Kelly, his biographer (“When the Gospels grows Feet”) has remarked: “Certainly a part of this epoch in pastoral theological development was to always look for the greater participation possible by the base or least empowered part of a community . . . ”
Arguably, the most defining formative moment of Grande´s life came in 1972, as he attended the Latin American Pastoral Institute in Quito, Ecuador. Grande became imbued with Paul Freire´s method of conscientization, and purposefully integrated it with the Final Document of the 2nd General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal Conference (CELAM), in Medellín, Colombia, in 1968. This Meeting became a point of convergence of both new approaches of Pastoral Theology and Liberation Theology (Gustavo Gutiérrez was one of the theologians in attendance). There, Grande discerned the intimacy between the pastoral, social and political implications of the Gospel.
His return to El Salvador in 1973 signals the beginning of Fr. Rutilio´s passionate, bold, daring and very risky pastoral, theological and liberationist commitment to the poorest and the suffering of his land. Kelly remarks that Rutilio developed a pastoral liberation ministry, centered in Scripture and popular liturgy, that allowed lay people to get involved in social and political transformation without necessarily appealing to Marxist criteria. Fr. Rutilio thundered on issues of agrarian reform, liturgical inclusiveness of the laity, just salary and human working conditions, and living, preaching and witnessing to a Catholicism for the poor. While engaged in ministry at the parish of Aguilares, his home town, 1967-77, Fr. Rutilio became active in creating base ecclesial communities, and educating and commissioning “Delegados de la Palabra” (“Delegates of the Word”) to lead these communities in the absence of an ordained ministry.
Rutilio Grande´s total and unstinting engagement with the poor and the hungry, his definition of local ecclesial communities with inclusive liturgies and Scriptural guidelines, with the full brunt of biblical subversive power, drew, inevitably, the ire and fierce antagonism of landowners, the 14 wealthy families that formed the Salvadorean oligarchy, and high-ranking military officers in the employ of the wealthy and powerful elites. Fr. Grande simply had to be silenced.
On March 12, 1977, in late afternoon, Fr. Grande, along with an elderly man, Manuel Solórzano, and a 16-year old named Nelson Lemus, left Aguilares for El Paisnal, about 4 and a half kilometers (3 miles) away. Just outside Aguilares, passing through Los Mangos, they realized a pick-up truck was following them. Along the sides of the road, clusters of armed men began to gather. They opened fire. Fr. Rutilio was hit by 12 bullets, and slumped, dead, in the driver´s seat. Nelson, the 16-year-old, and Solórzano, were also killed. A later investigation examining the scene of the crime determined that the empty shells left behind were ordinance used by the Salvadorean police.
Fr. Rutilio was right: the Scriptures are subversive. The Gospels are best prevented from the crossing the political borders of territories ruled by the oligarchies of the rich and the powerful. The Gospel of Jesus Christ will always be, as Fr. Grande seared in his own heart, a call to a passionate, risky, vulnerable and liberating commitment to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, He whose preferential options were and will always be the poor, the hungry, the discarded, the victims of racism – in short, those who dwell in a preferential space in Rutilio Grande´s heart He was a prophet and a mystic of the poor, an Ignatian mystic, that is, a mystic of open eyes, and the pilgrimage of prophets and open-eyes mystics always lead, without exception, in one form or another, to the Paschal light of martyrdom and resurrection.
Rutilio Grande, Servant of God, soon Blessed, and almost certainly, within a short time, Saint, intercede for us, beg the Lord Jesus, whose Cross you bore to the end, for the grace and the boldness to proclaim the subversion of the Gospels, the liberation of the poor, the hungry and the outcast.
Oremus pro invicem

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, NOW, MORE THAN EVER

MARTIN LUTHER KING: TODAY, NOW, MORE THAN EVER

          “Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives . . . ‘Agape” means understanding, redeeming good will for all men. It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative . . . It is the love of God operating in the human heart” – “AN EXPERIMENT IN LOVE,” 1953

“So I say to you, my friends, that even though we must the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

“I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by content of their character. I have a dream today!

“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists . . . that one day, right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today” – “I HAVE A DREAM,” 28 August 1963.

“The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure f the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.

“But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century” – LETTER FROM BIRMIGHAM CITY JAIL, 16 APRIL, 1963

“Millions of American Negroes, starving for the want of the bread of freedom, have knocked again and again on the door of so-called white churches, but they have usually been greeted by a cold indifference or a blatant hypocrisy . . . ” – THE STRENFTH TO LOVE, delivered on several occasions at Ebenezer Church.

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!” – I HAVE BEEN TO THE MOUNTAINTOP” – MASON  TEMPLE,  MEMPHIS, APRIL 3, 1968, THE DAY BEFORE HE WS ASSASSINATED.
 

 

 

IGNATIAN SOLIDARITY NETWORK: THE MOST TERRIBLE PART OF THE STORY

The Most Terrible Part of the Story
By Katie Lacz

I don’t want to hear this story.

I want to linger in the soft light of the nativity, with joyful, wondrous faces gazing in awe at the newborn Jesus. I want, as a mother of young children, to stay knowingly with the Holy Family, experiencing with them the exhausted wonder of the early days of being a family of three.

Instead, only days after Christmas, we are thrust into exile and terror.

Look closely at the Scriptures in the lectionary. In the canonical reading you likely heard yesterday, we skip from verse 15 to verse 19. But it is important that we bear witness to the whole story, no matter how painful. Here are the omitted verses, in bold, with the verses we heard immediately before and after them on Sunday.

Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.

Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.”

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”

Why do we excise the most painful part of this story? We know the warning, the fleeing, the return—but we skip over the massacre of the children.

We don’t want to know. Such things are beyond what I want to bear imagining. And I have the privilege of simply imagining, not experiencing firsthand.

Even now, there are families fleeing in the night from those who would wish to kill them and their children. (And we welcome them with separation and cages.) Even now, there are newly formed families who are exiled in unfamiliar countries, instead of forming their lives together in the safety and shelter of home. Even now, there are mothers keening over the bodies of their babies.

Whatever the message of Christmas is, it contains this truth: God’s love is so deep, so intent, that God insists on being with us in the worst the world offers. God does not skip past the most terrible part of the story. The Incarnation is not the Incarnation without suffering—it would simply be play-acting at being human. The Incarnation means that God-with-us, Emmanuel, bears what seems unbearable with us. Not to tell us that such horror is part of God’s plan, but that God’s love holds the capacity to transform and redeem it.

There have been so many images I have wanted to turn away from this year, so many ways we kill our innocents: at dangerous border crossings, in war, through systemic racism, in the gaping inequality that leaves some to starve while others throw food away. But we are called to stay and be present not by a God who demands it from a distance, but from God who became a baby bundled and carried among refugees from violence. God is present where we are present, which is to say, in the nativity and in the massacre. Such is the mystery; such is God’s love.

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JOHANN BAPTIST METZ (1928-2019) – POLITICAL THEOLOGY AS MYSTICISM – HOMAGE TO A GREAT THEOLOGIAN AND PROPHET:

JOHANN BAPTIST METZ (1928-2019): POLITICAL THEOLOGY AS MYSTICISM FOR OUR TIMES – AS HOMAGE TO A GREAT THEOLOGIAN AND CHRISTIAN
On December 2, Johann Baptist Metz, regarded by many as the co-founder-along with Jürgen Möltmann-of modern Political Theology, passed away in Münster.
Metz’ vast body of works (“Faith in History and Society,” “Memoria Passionis,” among others) reflected to a good extent the influence of the great Catholic scholar whom Metz regarded as “the father of my faith and my theology,” Karl Rahner (1904-1984) – and yet, Metz was critical of his genial mentor for not fully translating into meaningful theological forms the plight of the oppressed and the suffering – Metz had been conscripted into the German Wehrmacht in 1944, at the age of 15 – facing an impending attack by Allied tank and infantry forces, his platoon commander send him for reinforcements – there was none to be found – when Metz returned to his unit, he found all his comrade-in-arms dead.
The unspeakable suffering of World War II, and very pre-eminently, the unspeakable horror of the Holocaust, seared his soul with a sense of compassion for the suffering and the oppressed that would define his future thought – Eventually, he worked out his mature theology as a “Practical Fundamental Theology,” that would gravitate around several key principles, two of which are, in my opinion, the key insights: “The dangerous memory of Jesus” and the “Authority of the Suffering” – The memory of Jesus incarnate, crucified and risen is dangerous, subversive, because it calls forth the Christian of today to a radical conversion of heart in communion with the oppressed and the marginalized – those are the ones, Metz argued, that hold true authority today – the suffering are the key hermeneutical pivot point for theology today, because theology should have no other concern than to make visible the Paschal reality of Jesus present in those who are still denied resurrection.
Metz made his own Elie Wiesel’s cry: “Can we believe in God after Auschwitz?” – or its variant: “Can we pray to God after Auschwitz” – The evil contained in the critical mass of suffering that Auschwitz symbolizes demands an answer that call only be given within the bowels of this new mysticism: listening to the clamor of the Psalms, allowing ourselves to be wounded by the persecuted and the humiliated – Ultimately, Metz despises the cheap Neo-Scholastic answers given by the Manuals to the question “Why do the innocent suffer?” “Why the suffering of those “who are not” that God chose to confuse those “who think that they are” ? (1 Corinthians 1: 28) – There is only the painful risk of submitting to the authority of the suffering.
I write this as – rather deficient and very imperfect – act to gratitude to a humble, yet bold and prophetic theologian who actually believed – and lived according to this belief- that insofar as theology dares to listen to Auschwitz, and to all the suffering, despised and persecuted sisters and brothers who still cry for justice, theology can be nothing other than Mystical, Practical, Fundamental Theology.
May he behold now, and for all eternity, the Holy Mystery of the Incarnate, Crucified and Risen Lord whose true countenance as the Lord of justice and compassion he strove so much to unveil for us.