BY: ROBERTO JARAMILLO, S.J. | November 4, 2019
The following is a homily given by Fr. Roberto Jaramillo, S.J., President of the Conferencia de Provinciales Jesuitas de América Latina (CPAL), on the first evening of the Jesuit Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat Golden Jubilee Congress at the Jesuit Curia in Rome. Approximately 200 delegates representing the six Jesuit conferences across the globe gathered for the Congress.
We are here, first of all, to give thanks; And we have no shortage of reasons! We congregate from different places, with different languages and traditions, with different problems and challenges, feeling that we are one apostolic body – together with many others who remained in our places of origin – called to be equal in the Son, friends in the Lord who summons us. It is enough to look at our sides and contemplate the richness of this assembly to feel the mystery of having been called: “the servant does not know what his Lord does; I call you friends, because I have made known all that I have heard from my Father” (Jn 15:15). We have to give thanks, especially for Xavier, Valeria, Rosana, Pablo, Filippo and for the whole team – much broader – of colleagues who have been working very hard for ten months to organize this event.
Thank you, we want to give especially today for the charismatic figure of our dear father Pedro Arrupe; of him, as of all other fellow martyrs, just whom we remember with affection in this celebration, says the scripture: “wisdom guided them on straight paths, showed them divine sovereignty and gave them the science of holy things; … he kept them against his enemies … and, after a hard fight, he granted them victory ”(Sab 10,14) to make us see that godliness is more powerful than everything.
Along with them walks a multitude of men and women, collaborators in the mission of Christ in these last 50 years, who in the most diverse circumstances, languages, countries, cultures, problems, etc., experienced – with the power of the Spirit Holy – the God who, as the first reading says: “He went down with them to the prison and did not abandon them among the chains” (Sab 10, 13), the one that washes the feet of his disciples, the King whose power is not other than to love without conditions.
That is the commandment we receive in the gospel we proclaim: to love one another, in the same way that God has loved us. Despite the unfathomable mystery of God’s love that in Christ first loved us and gave himself for us when we were still unfaithful, Jesus tells us that “no one has greater love than he who gives his life for his friends” (Jun 15,13).
Friends of the poor we must be if we want to be the ferment of a new world, of a crazy – truly divine love; friends of the poor we must be, first and foremost, because – in a world structured in injustice and oppression – that is the only way of salvation, of liberation, of true and definitive happiness. Saint Ignatius already said it in 1547, in his letter to the Jesuits of the Padua school: that “friendship with the poor makes us friends of the eternal King”; and that people (and institutions) who feel safe because of the economic resources they have are not assured of continuous joy, rather than: “the rich are full of storms” and do not live happily and satisfied “the great merchants, magistrates, princes and other great characters. ”
The common line that unites the life of Arrupe and the 57 just men we celebrate today, along with the lives of thousands of people who have given their lives as collaborators of the mission of Christ in these 50 years, is friendship with the poor concrete in whom they found his friend Jesus, our partner and Lord.
From all of them we have learned that it is not possible to love God if one does not love like God. And there it is, I believe, the secret of the authenticity of their spiritual experience and of the challenges that turn out for us their lives delivered martyrially: his daily and permanent relationship with Jesus in prayer was the necessary expression of an authentic, real and true love, a deep-rooted and vital friendship with the poor in which they found the face of “Christ again incarnate”.
Perhaps that is what we need most today in the Society of Jesus. There is no lack of ideas or projects, reflections and publications, analysis or resources. We need to have true friends, be friends with poor people (and that has political consequences, even inside the family or the society), we need to have our houses in the middle of their houses (and that has practical consequences that we generally reject), we need to share food and spaces with them, experience their anxieties, be part of their organizations, listen to their analysis, trust their resources, accompany their paths.
If that step is not taken, our love becomes a pure declaration and ideology, because “it is not the voice, but the desire, not the cry but the love, not the instruments but the heart that counts for the ears of God ”(Inscription in the choir of the chapel of San Damián, Assis, Italy). It was what Ignacio did radically when leaving Monserrat he really and definitively stripped himself of his clothes and past, and became a poor man to never return to his previous status; or what Francis did in the square of Assisi when, naked, he declared to be a son and owed respect only to the Father who is in heaven.
Our holy martyrs, beginning with Father Arrupe, are for us a constant call to transform our lives in a personal and institutional way. They are clear witnesses that it is not possible to love God without loving as God.
May the venerable Pedro Arrupe and all the companions who have given their lives in the service of the poor as an expression of God’s love, pray for us, Amen.