Recently I had the opportunity to watch Blood of the Martyrs, a documentary about the six Jesuits and two laywomen who were murdered during the Salvadoran civil war. What strikes me most when thinking about martyrs and those persecuted for their faith and values is their choice of hope over fear. I find this hope and passion particularly inspiring because hope is a mobilizer. It motivates us to stand firm on what we are passionate about and remain persistent despite the obstacles that arise—with faith and hope in not only one’s values but also in God’s kingdom.
The readings this week call us to put our faith in God. Jesus preaches, promising those who are excluded, mourning, hungry, hated, and poor a seat at the table and a place in heaven. In the Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples, “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man”.
In many ways, this is connected to those who have historically been martyred for their faith and those who are actively excluded from society through stigma, bias, and policies. However, maintaining faith in God and the promise of a better tomorrow can assist in mobilizing us in our everyday lives. There is still much to be done to make sure that the excluded, mourning, hungry, hated, and poor have a seat at the table in society. The Jesuits and laywomen in El Salvador were advocates for the excluded and lost their lives promoting the dignity and respect of the marginalized. God calls us to use our faith and hope in God to promote the dignity of all, despite the fear of persecution.
Gabrielle Bessmer is a student at Mercyhurst University. She is majoring in social work and minoring in psychology. With her BSW she hopes to work within advocacy and policy to promote social justice. Gabrielle previously attended Walsh Jesuit High School and resides in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. As an intern at ISN during the spring 2022 semester, she is working closely with the ethical purchasing team and expanding racial justice resources, specifically for the 21-Day Ignatian Racial Justice Challenge.