In today’s Gospel, Jesus is trying to get the disciples to imagine a different way of being in the world, a way which prioritizes love and service rather than prestige and power. The late Dean Brackley, SJ referred to this shift as seeking “downward mobility.” While the way of the world places a premium on upward mobility, Dean saw downward mobility, or making an option for the poor, as the way of Christ.
Living and working in El Salvador, we have the privilege of knowing some amazing people who put into practice this Gospel message. Our friend Angelica Portillo lives and works in La Javia, Tepecoyo, a rural community 45 minutes outside of San Salvador. She grew up in a poor family and only has a second-grade education. For almost 20 years, she has run a lunch program for malnourished kids in her community out of her simple home. She is not distracted by the idea of upward mobility, rather focuses on serving those most vulnerable her community. This freedom of spirit has allowed her to master the art of loving and, over the years, she has become an expert.
Angelica’s loving service to the children of Tepecoyo is a living example of what Jesus tried ever so patiently to teach the disciples in the Gospel – that while the world may emphasize power and prestige, God is more interested in our service to those most in need.
- In what ways can we seek downward mobility, that is, to enter the world of the poor assuming their cause, and, to some degree, their condition?
- How do the realities of the poor and marginalized inform our personal and institutional discernment?
Kevin Yonkers-Talz and Trena, his wife, were co-founders and co-directors of Casa de la Solidaridad, Santa Clara University’s study abroad program in El Salvador. With over 22 years of experience living and working in Central America, they recently co-founded UCA’s new Centro Ignacio Ellacuría, which develops academic and formation programs that integrate the exploration of faith and the promotion of justice through a praxis-based pedagogy rooted in the Ignatian tradition. They are proud parents of 4 daughters: Sophia, Grace, Hannah, and Emma. Kevin holds an M.S. degree in college student development from Miami University, a M.Ed. degree in religious education from Boston College, and an Ed.D. degree in international and multicultural education from the University of San Francisco.
Trena y Kevin Yonkers-Talz son cofundadores y codirectores de la Casa de a Solidaridad, programa de estudios, basado en una experiencia de praxis en el extranjero de la Universidad de Santa Clara. Ellos han estado viviendo en San Salvador con sus 4 hijas durante los últimos 18 años.