Saturday afternoon I accompanied Padre German to a funeral Mass in a village I had never visited. Yesterday a leader in the church community had been killed, leaving a wife and seven children.
The village has no church building, though the man who had been killed had donated a parcel of land to build a church. So the Mass was in the porch of the home.
Padre German chose the Genesis story of Cain and Abel and the Gospel of Jesus on the cross.
He spoke strongly about the horror of the death and the need to forego vengeance. He noted that there was a huge crowd for the deceased – but the killer or killers would probably be experiencing loneliness and a fear that someone would come up and kill them.
This village has experienced a number of deaths recently – and this is at least the sixteenth death in the municipality since January 2014.
I don’t know the details but the real concern is that this will unleash more deaths. In a nation where less that 6% of murders are brought to justice, all too many people take the law into their own hands. And in a country where witnesses cannot count on protection, intimidation and death are often the means to prevent someone from testifying.
But what struck me was the pain. People are hurting. During the Prayer of the Faithful, Padre German invited people to state the names of people in the village and a nearby village who had been killed. There were six or so.
And so, for me, I feel more and more that what I am called to do, at the very least, is be present, in the midst of the suffering.
One of the passages of St. Paul that has moved me for many years are the first verses of his second letter to the Corinthians 1: 3-4:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercy and God of all consolation, who consoles us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
I have been blessed with much consolation in the face of difficulties, and I am now beginning to see that God has given this to me so that I can be a sign of consolation to others in affliction.
And there are many who need that consolation – that comfort – that encouragement.