Posted by: dowsmallgroups | 20/05/2013

St David Roldan-Lara – pursuing justice

The following reflection first appeared in Sparks of Light (WRCDT, 2012) and is reproduced here in honour of his feast day – 21 May.

St David Roldan-LaraOne of the greatest threats to this century is that of terrorism. Improvements in technology combined with the willingness of people to die in order to inflict damage on their enemies have made the world a dangerous place. When people think martyr, thoughts often turn to suicide bombers, those who kill for a cause giving up their own life into the bargain. Christian martyrdom is an altogether different thing. It seeks not to harm but to demonstrate love. It is not selfish but selfless. It ennobles the one dying for Christ and inspires those who encounter them. In the manner of his death, St Gregory Nazianzen calls Eleazar ‘the greatest of all those who suffered before the coming of Christ; as Stephen is first among those who endure suffering after Christ’.

As Eleazar and St Stephen died rather than giving up their faith, other Christian martyrs such as David Roldán-Lara, his cousin Salvador, and countless more have done the same over the centuries. The stories of Eleazar, St Stephen and St David Roldán-Lara tell of heroic resistance to tyranny. St Stephen, St David and Eleazar were given opportunities to deny their faith in return for their lives, however, all three died with the desire to serve God in their hearts, died as ‘memorials of courage’. Thanks be to God, not all of us are called to die for our faith. Each of us is, however, called to serve God – such service is to be characterised by love and is brought about by dying to ourselves, our pride and our desires.

One of the more striking moments during Holy Week is the washing of the feet, the Mandatum – Christ’s command to serve (John 13:34). Christ set the example for his followers: be the one who serves, avoid the conceit of pride. Value yourself by all means but value others and humbly seek to serve them with love. We followers of Christ are called to be constant and firm in our desire to give God and neighbour their due. To do this, to ‘die for God’ in the context of our daily lives, we require what St David recognised as God’s grace. To have the strength to face persecution and trouble we need God – it is impossible to rely simply and solely on your own power and wits. Living for others and for God means making sacrifices, it means tolerating life’s small hurts. Every stage of life has its ‘givings’ and ‘dyings’ and it is through these that we grow closer to Christ.

The Catechism tells us that a key component of justice is the determination to give their due to God and neighbour. What do I consider to be God’s due? What about my neighbours’? How can I serve both God and society?

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