The future belongs to the poor, not to the rich.

December 2, 1999

The Martyrdom of Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donovan

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November 29, 1999 Isaiah 2, 1-5 + Matthew 8, 5-11

November 30, 1999 Romans 10, 9-18 + Matthew 4, 18 - 22, Feast of St. Andrew

December 1, 1999 Isaiah 25, 6-10 + Matthew 15, 29-37

December 2, 1999 Isaiah 26, 1-6 + Matthew 7, 21, 24-27

On December 2, 1980, Sisters Maura Clarke and Its Ford (Maryknoll), Dorothy Kazel (Ursuline), and Jean Donovan (lay missioner), left the airport in El Salvador. They were stopped by the

El Salvadoran military, kidnaped, and several hours later murdered, two of them were raped. Afterwards, the US government attacked the victims as "political activists." There were murdered nine months after Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. Before his murder, he had said, "One who is committed to the poor must risk the same fate as the poor. And in El Salvador we know what the fate of the poor signifies: to disappear, to be tortured, to be captive, and to be found dead."

The readings for these days, with the brief exception of Tuesday for the feast of St. Andrew, give us glimpses of the Messianic reign. Today's first reading, on the day we remember the martyrs of El Salvador, is particularly poignant and deserves quoting in full:

On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah.

A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.

Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith.

A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you.

Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock.

He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down;

He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust.

It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor.

Where is this nation today? It is certainly not the United States of America. We as a nation do not keep faith with anything but the Almighty Dollar and our firm purposes are Arrogance, Violence, Exploitation, and Oppression. We have abandoned even the pretense of solidarity. We do not keep peace, we make war -- on strangers and on our own citizens. What is our fate? We are the strong, the proud, the rich, we will be trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor, they will walk over us and humble all who are in high places. The lofty city will crash, and "great will be the fall of it." Alas, Babylon.

In the Gospels, we read of great healings -- all were amazed because the lame, the blind, the deformed, and the mute were healed. Thousands of people were fed. We hear of the faith of a Gentile, and that it is greater than found elsewhere in Israel.

And on December 2nd, as we remember the martyrs of El Salvador, we are reminded: "For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

Because of their love and devotion to the poor, Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donovan paid the ultimate price. And what a terrible experience it must have been -- to be kidnaped, tortured, raped, and then murdered. And the United States government shares in the responsibility for this deed. It's the kind of thing the rich and powerful do to the poor every day. One of the messages of today's readings is that the future belongs to the poor, not to the rich.

Two days ago I noticed a tent in an vacant lot in one of the poor neighborhoods I regularly visit. Today I found out that there were 3 women and 2 kids living in the tent. They were from Massachusetts, and were moving down here to find something better. On their way, their van broke down, and with the repair bill, they arrive in Oklahoma City broke. One of them has already found work. So I called Catholic Charities, and they put the group up in a motel through Monday, please pray that we will be able to find some permanent housing for them by Monday.

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