What is it to be a Companion of Jesus today? It is to engage, under the standard of the Cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and the struggle for justice which it includes?
This statement of the Jesuits from the 1970s is inscribed on the wall of the chapel of the Central American University in San Salvador, El Salvador where six Jesuits lay, killed by the Salvadoran government Atlatacl battalion which was financed and many of whose members were trained by the US government. (This is one of the many scandals that makes me very critical of the government of my homeland.)
Those who were killed included several international known Jesuit priests – the philosopher-theologian Ignacio Ellacuría, the psychologist Ignacio Martín-Baró, and the sociologist Segundo Montes.
Two women were also killed with them – a cook for the Jesuits and here daughter.
But among them was anther less-well know Jesuit, Juan Ramón Moreno, whose analysis of impoverishment is worth pondering today – as a call to conversion.
Basically the poor are impoverished due to hoarding and exploitation by the rich; and the rich are enriched at the cost of the impoverishment and misery of the masses. To free the poor by giving them access to living conditions consonant with their dignity as human beings and children of God entails sacrificing the privileges of wealthy oppressors. Hence, when faced with the news that the Kingdom of God is coming, the rich feel challenged and called to accept God’s justice and kindness, by allowing themselves to be re-created and changed by that justice into brothers and sisters, and persons in solidarity. ‘Be converted and believe the good news’ (Mark 1:15). Only conversion, metanoia, change of mentality – new eyes in order to see reality with love in solidarity with which God sees it – can enable the approach of the Kingdom to ring out as good news in the ears of the rich — conversion to God who comes in gratuity and kindness to remake things, the God of the Kingdom.
Would that all of us, especially the rich nations of the world, would heed this all to conversion.