On April 26, 1998, the chief Roman Catholic pastor in Guatemala, Juan Gerardi Comedera, age 75, was beaten to death with a concrete block as he arrived home.
Juan Gerardi had just presented evidence of extensive, past human rights abuses by the Guatemalan government.
All reasonable people despise both communism and the oppressive regimes that attract people to communism. We can be glad that there is now a good hope for democracy in Guatemala. We can perhaps understand why, in the past, an anti-communist government might have chosen "stability" over "human rights". We can surely understand why some people would have fantasized about a communist solution to the world's injustice, or seen alliance with communist powers as the right way to fight oppression.
In May 1998, a right-wing group "Jaguar Justice" claimed responsibility for the murder. One suspect, Carlos Vielman, has been arrested for the crime but has denied taking part, and those close to the investigation reportedly have also cast doubt on his involvement.
When you become a Christian, you promise to do what's right to the best of your understanding, and if need be, to die for it. I agree with Juan Gerardi's decision to include human rights activism in his pastoral ministry. I understand why other equally-sincere people might disagree. But it is hard not to admire him.
Most of the early martyrs were executed not simply for being Christians, but for the political crime of refusing to burn incense to a make-believe government "god". In the 1900's, anonymous martyrs number in the millions, particularly under the communist tyrannies and at present in the Sudan.
Christians believe that martyrdom is not to be sought, and not to be avoided. It is never an accident, but always part of God's plan for a better world and the salvation of souls. "The church grows strong on the blood of her martyrs" is an ancient saying which has been proved time and time again. Amid both the glory and goodness, and the sham and hypocrisy, which the world sees in organized religion, the church rejoices in the triumph of people like Juan Gerardi.
The first martyr Stephen was killed by a gang which included Paul, who, repentant, became our first theologian and perhaps our greatest winner of souls. We Christians are unequivocally required to continue praying for those who persecute us.
If you are a Christian, please take a moment (right now if you can) and pray that those responsible for the murder of Juan Gerardi realize that they have done wrong, commit/recommit their own lives to Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and live better.
Jesus of Nazareth -- if you are considering becoming a Christian and/or puzzled by "The Jesus Seminar" and similar media weirdness.
Ed's home page
New visitors to www.pathguy.com
reset Jan. 30, 2005: