Saturday, May 02, 2015

Present in the midst of pain and death

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.


Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this. It is an important thing to do. I am sorry to hear of so much homicide in your area. (I noticed you did not use that word). Is it gangs or is there a vendetta war going on? Tragedy. I was there during the Contra wars and dealt with so much of such tragedy. You have our prayers.

John (Juancito) Donaghy said...

A lot of the killing here, as I see it, is due to vengeance or family feuds and misuse of alcohol in the presence of guns and machetes.

Unknown said...

So sorry to hear of the sufferings of these beautiful people. WE pray that the murderers be found soon and for the friends and family of the young man. Jack, could you pray also for another Sr. of the CPS community, Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood, you know the Srs. from Shillington - we took you there for a Christmas Mass once....well, last week, Sr. Stefani was brutally murdered in her bed, 87 yrs. old, in Ixopo, South Africa. The Sisters have many missions all over Africa and lots and lots of African Sisters as well. Sr. Stefani was the 2nd Sr. murdered in a year. Sr. Mary Paul was carjacked, her car found with her keys and wallet with all money still in it - down the road from where they found her beaten and face down in a stream. Just because of who they are. This is the 3rd Martyr in this community and right now in Nigeria another sister is recovering from a brutal attack. Sr. Mary Paul was a vibrant 80 year old! Pathetically cruel and sad. We have a lot to pray for - please pray for us as we do for you. Stay safe dear friend and God bless you. Did you get to see Andy? Let us know how it went - do the boys know you? Isn't it crazy how much Brendan looks exactly like Andy did at the same age? FREAKY! Love you, Trish and John