Tan cerca de nosotros no había estado el Señor, acaso nunca;
ya que nunca habíamos estado tan inseguros.
El 14 de noviembre de 1980 el Padre Arrupe, por aquel tiempo Superior General de la Compañía de Jesús, anunciaba la creación del Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). La idea había surgido durante las Navidades del año anterior, en las que había quedado “profundamente impresionado y conmovido por las penalidades de los miles de prófugos del mar y de los refugiados”. Entonces eran los que huían de Vietnam.
Quizá obedeciera simplemente a una hermosa casualidad, pero me gusta pensar que el hecho de que el JRS “naciera” en Navidad tiene que ver con algo que se ha ido encarnando en la vida del que ha hecho los Ejercicios Espirituales. El que ha escuchado esas palabras que hablan de “hacer redención del género humano” y luego ha contemplado cómo el Señor nacía “en suma pobreza, y a cabo de tantos trabajos de hambre, de sed, de calor y de frío, de injurias y afrentas…”, tiene que acabar oyendo esos gritos arrinconados en los márgenes.
Redacción de Espiritualidad Ignaciana
(PART 1 OF 3)
ARRUPE, THE MAN WHO SET HIS HANDS ON THE PLOUGH AND DID NOT LOOK BACK
Fr. Jose Cecilio J. Magadia, SJ
*Note: Pedro Arrupe, SJ was the 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus whose vision and leadership guided the Society in the post-Vatican II world. He died on February 5, 1991. The following reflection was originally part of Fr. Jose Cecilio J. Magadia, SJ’s (former Provincial Superior) points for the Philippine Province Recollection last January 1, 2002, on the occasion of Fr. Arrupe’s 10th death anniversary. This year, as we commemorate Fr. Arrupe’s 25th death anniversary, we are re-posting the reflection in three parts.
There are those who would say that we have in Pedro Arrupe, a real saint. G.K. Chesterton says: “The Saint is a medicine because he is an antidote…. He will generally be found restoring the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever the world neglects, which is by no means always the same … in every age. Yet each generation seeks its saint by instinct; and he is not what the people want, but rather what the people need.”
I submit that for us, Jesuits living in these early years of the 21st century, Arrupe is a saint in this Chestertonian sense of being an antidote to the world, of providing the world, not what it wants but what it really really needs.
After three months in Lourdes in the summer of 1926, and after having witnessed the miraculous cures attributed to Our Lady, the young medical student Pedro Arrupe decided to put his hand to the plough. On his return to Spain, he made the necessary arrangements with the Jesuits of Loyola, without telling anybody. Then, in January of 1927, he broke the news to his sisters, who were completely surprised by the decision. They were especially pained because their father had just passed away, and they looked to Pedro as their source of hope and consolation. And now, this, another separation. They didn’t sleep that night; they just talked and cried, and his sisters saw that Pedro’s heart was set. They knew.
A brother-in-law, Joaquin, accompanied Pedro from Bilbao to the novitiate in Loyola. When they arrived, they found out from the Master of Novices that there was still one other document lacking. Joaquin proposes that they go back to Bilbao. But, surprisingly, Pedro says no. He tells Joaquin to go to Bilbao, while he waits in a hotel in Loyola. Why? Because that was the way of Pedro Arrupe: once he has made that step forward, nothing and no one can make him turn back.
This world needs men who do not turn back. Ours is an age of great complexities, where the divisions between peoples have become more pronounced, where problems are built on top of older problems, and they meld into, and exacerbate, and feed on, each other. In search for an answer, many have found themselves lost and confused, as if in a maze of ideas and ideals that blur the ideological boundaries, and soften distinctions, and throw away many of the old fundamentals. There are those who have turned to a distinct kind of atheism, which insists on living only for the moment and rejects all transcendence. There are others who have become content with individualism, who have ran to forms of religiosity which are a cheap imitation of the noblest ascetical practices of non-Christian religions, but which are devoid of any contact with a loving and personal God. There are also others who, in the midst of the many ambiguities and ambivalences of today’s world, have fallen into the trap of relativization, and the abandonment of absolutes, rejecting hard and fast judgments of any kind, emphasizing a destructured and decentered way of life, treating tradition with irreverence – yes making for great creativity of expression and playfulness and spontaneity, but also creating a world of fence-sitters, without spine.
In this complex world, Arrupe provides a distinctly Christian response of undying commitment to bringing back a sense of the sacred, a love for God, that leads to the creation of, to use Arrupe’s own words, “men and women for others” – men and women who dare to commit to an absolute and to place a stake in caring for those who have been victimized by the processes that have come to be tagged as “development”.
It is said that Arrupe’s determination, his setting his hands on the plough, sometimes approached that stubbornness that has been identified with the Basque people. But it was always a healthy kind of stubbornness, that was not easily dissuaded or discouraged. Fr. Francisco Ivern, a Jesuit who has worked closely with Don Pedro, recounts that when Arrupe would come up with a new project or think of a new idea, which happened quite often, his counselors would sometimes deliberately ignore him, as if what he was proposing was so unrealistic and impossible. But they knew, Ivern says, that he would come back, again and again and again, with the same proposal, until he was persuaded that, after all, it would not be so practical.
My friends, in the face of the world that can tempt us to compromise on some of our ideals and commitments, to give up easily in the face of complexity and confusion, to try wishy-washy principles and short-term, temporary, stop-gap responses: Arrupe’s example of life invites us to ask ourselves once more some very critical questions. What are the ploughs I have set my hand onto? Where does it lead me? Does it bear the mark of God? Does it fit in God’s scheme of things? Have I really given myself so completely to it? What am I willing to give up for it?
Hoy esa misión es ocasión de agradecimiento por poder estar junto a quienes son -misteriosamente- presencia de Dios, recordándonos nuestros despistes y trabajando por arrancar el egoísmo de nuestro corazón.
ARRUPE, THE MAN WHO LISTENS TO THE SOUND THAT THE WIND MAKES WHEN IT BLOWS, NOT KNOWING WHERE IT COMES FROM NOR WHERE IT GOES. [Jn.3:8]
ARRUPE, THE MAN WHO, LIKE CHRIST, SEES THE CITY AND WEEPS [Lk.19:41], WHO SEES THE PAIN OF THE WORLD AND RESPONDS WITH AN OFFER TO HEAL.