On Sunday 16th November 2014, people across the world united to remember the martyrdom of six Jesuits, and their housekeeper and her daughter. We prepared these special reflection on their life, reflecting on Jesus’s words at the Sermon on the Mount.
Find out more about the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador with this short introductory podcast from the Jesuits in Britain.
Now perhaps listen to this reflection using soundcloud or the file below if soundcloud doesn't work in your browser.
On Sunday 16th November, people across the world will unite to remember the martyrdom of six Jesuits, and their housekeeper and her daughter. We have prepared this special reflection on their lives focusing on Jesus’s words at the Sermon on the Mount. As we prepare to enter into prayer, Nóirín Ní Riain, with the monks of Glenstal Abbey, sings the Beatitudes.
Today, El Salvador is a very different place, and five years ago, on the twentieth anniversary of their deaths. the President bestowed the country’s highest honours on the fallen Jesuits. El Salvador’s president said that they had distinguished themselves for outstanding service in education, human rights, combating poverty and inequality, and in working for peace and democracy. But as we commemorate these martyrs, it isn’t these honours from leaders and politicians that we remember, but the words of Jesus as he spoke to the crowds at the Sermon on the Mount.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Like many others, these Jesuit martyrs were killed for the way they lived, for how they expressed their faith in love, for their hunger for justice. They stood for a new kind of society, a ‘new’ church. How do you respond to their generosity?
Today Pope Francis calls us to be a church of the poor. As you hear about the experiences of these Jesuit martyrs, can you get a fresh perspective on what this might mean?
What feelings have stirred in you through this reflection? How do the Beatitudes make you think about the Church? Despite the pain and suffering experienced by these Jesuits, and by so many others, can you find some happiness or peace in light of the reading? What are your hopes?
Ignacio Ellacuría; Segundo Montes; Ignacio Martín-Baró; Juan Ramón Moreno; Armando López; Joaquín López y López; Julia Elba Ramos; Celina Ramos. Yours is the kingdom of heaven. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.