God says to Job’s three unhelpful, conventional and pious friends, “I am incensed against you because you did not speak what is right about me like my servant Job.” Job’s actions and words earn God’s favor. Job is the one who speaks what is true despite his experience of injustice done against him by cosmic forces beyond his control. Job’s example establishes credibility for God’s presence in a complicated, often unjust, world.
In a similar fashion, the Jesuit UCA martyrs of El Salvador establish credibility for a God who is intimately present in the midst of dark places. They set an example by speaking what is right about God and what is just for society. Twenty-five years later, the blood of the UCA martyrs continues to speak against injustices set against marginalized people everywhere. This is a powerful witness, indeed, and one that challenges me to strive to live a life worthy of the call I have received. I first learned about the brutal deaths of the six Jesuits, along with their housekeeper and her daughter, when as a novice I was sent for my long experiment to live with the becarios, Salvadoran students on scholarship at the UCA. There I learned that the Jesuits were influenced by martyrs who went before them such as Monseñor Romero, Ita Ford, Rutilio Grande and, in a fundamental way, by the Salvadoran people.
Perhaps the most meaningful experience as a Jesuit I have had in the past 10 years is praying at the tomb with Ignacio Ellacuría and the rest of the Jesuit martyrs. There I read a plaque that said, “What does it mean to be a Jesuit today? It is to engage, under the banner of the Cross, in the crucial struggle of faith and the struggle for justice it includes.”