In today’s Gospel, we turn away from Jesus in his hour of need.
The Passion’s prose is a dry, clinical narration of agonizing facts, as Christ is betrayed, arrested, tortured, and executed. In the passive voice, John tells us that thus are the Scriptures “fulfilled.” The readings reproach and chide us, for we know in our hearts we have scorned this “man of suffering.” He was “one of those from whom people hide their faces.”
The chilling phrase, “in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the Sabbath,” is perhaps most haunting. We hear its echo in encounters and events in our nation and across the world. We read about it in our newspapers and watch it on television: murders, beatings, rapes, and other forms of physical and psychological violence and oppression. There are too many places and moments today when Pilate would be at home.
In October 2014, we lived intensively our Ignatian mission at Saint Louis University, when in a tense and difficult moment, we chose to listen with open hearts to a community’s hurt and rage. Positive change is taking place, but with excruciating slowness. I urge you to uncover your face for all of those enduring injustice. Listen. “Be woke.”
- What actions can you take to protect those who are already victims, or could become victims, of injustice?
- To “be woke” is to understand that many live in fear. Another key concept is “poverty is violence.” How do these ideas speak to you, or move you to take action?
Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., is the 33rd president of Saint Louis University. The first permanent lay president in the University’s nearly 200-year history, Dr. Pestello officially began his tenure at SLU on July 1, 2014.
Dr. Pestello is Jesuit educated and has spent the entirety of his 30-year career in Catholic higher education. He has been noted for upholding Jesuit values throughout his career, including his commitment to dialogue and inclusion both during and after campus protests at SLU in 2014.
Prior to coming to SLU, Dr. Pestello was the president of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. Dr. Pestello also spent nearly 25 years as a faculty member and provost at the University of Dayton.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Dr. Pestello has three degrees in sociology. He earned his bachelor‘s degree from the Jesuit institution John Carroll University in 1974, his master’s degree from the University of Akron in 1981, and his doctoral degree through a joint program of the University of Akron and Kent State University in 1985.