Monday, January 24, 2011

Jtatic Samuel, rest in peace

Monday morning, January 24, a saint in our midst went to his heavenly reward. Jtatic Samuel, Bishop Samuel Ruiz, retired bishop of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, died.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom, he shared these words at a Mass at Romero’s tomb:
"This is not the tomb of a dead man -- an assassinated man, to be more precise -- from which we look out, but a luminous lighthouse that has guided us over the last three decades in seeking and building the Kingdom of God that Jesus came to proclaim..."
(Rebel Girl’s translation)
Jtatic Samuel, as he was loving called by the indigenous people he defended, was a true light in the darkness. His presence will be missed – but his light must be passed on to illumine the darkness of our world, beset with poverty, oppression, violence, and racism.

In November 2000 the Des Moines Catholic Peace Ministry Newsletter published this section of an interview with Don Samuel. It is a challenge to all of us and a fitting reminder of his prophetic voice:
If someone offers you a fish...

It’s a very well known saying that if someone offers you a fish, you don’t take it. You ask him to teach you how to fish.

So, Pedro learns how to fish. He goes to the store and he says, “I want to buy a net and I want to buy a hook,” And the owner of the store says, “Uh, what’s going on here, Pedro? You learned how to fish?”

He says, “Yeah, I learned how to fish.” Then the owner says to him, “OK, but what you didn’t know is you have to sell me a portion of your fish.” And Pedro says, “OK,” and he goes out and starts fishing.

He’s on the edge of the lake and soon he feels somebody tapping on his shoulder and somebody is standing there, telling him, “What’s going on here? You can’t be fishing here. This is private land.” And so they push him off.

Pedro has been given a skill, but that’s not enough. You can work on the “development” of the individual person, but the other half of that is working on the structural injustices.

The only question at the end of our lives is about entering the Reign of God: the reign prepared for those who visited the least of their sisters and brothers in jail and who fed them when they were hungry, the reign which those who reject the poor will not enter.

So the ultimate question is not a question of orthodoxy [right belief] but of orthopraxy [right practice]. The final question is not was I right or wrong but did I love my sisters and brothers or not. Whether I was loving my brothers or sisters or not — that is the only question.

-----
Some more information on Bishop Samuel can be found here at Iglesia Descalza.
After this was originally posted, Iglesia Descalza placed a new tribute to Jtatic Samuel here.

1 comment:

phoenixwoman said...

I did a translation regarding the indigenous church, in which Ruiz was a central figure. It's a shame some people can't spend eternity here on earth. It wouldn't be fair to them.

Thanks for the links.

--Charles