International Ministries

A night a little darker… the morning, brighter!

February 6, 2011 Journal
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Dear friends:

Many things have happened in the last months. I want to share one that was painful but full of hope.

I was not among those close to him, nor did I know him intimately. Yet I cried when I knew of Don Samuel Ruiz death on the 24th of January. Yes, I cried.

Many persons have written about his work, his conversion to the indigenous peoples and to a contextual Gospel. Some has written about his pastoral rooted in the preferential option for the poor, his mediation between the EZLN and the government, his day to day commitment to defend human rights, to those he served and his persistent voice in behalf of the rights of indigenous peoples. Don Samuel worked in a holistic way and promoted a view of salvation within the integrality of life.

Many might have remembered that Samuel Ruiz was nominated twice for the Peace Nobel Price but wasn`t given the award “supposedly” because he didn’t achieve under his mediation the signing of peace between the EZLN and the Mexican government. Few know that the Mexican government, Washington and the Vatican vetoed his nomination.[1]

Some might have remembered the political harassment he received from Rome, when he dared to order permanent married deacons, and even hinted the need to ordained married indigenous priests. Some might have written of the murder attempts, of the conflicts with San Cristobal elites outraged by his communion and friendship with indigenous peoples. Some remembered the Mexican federal authorities’ accusations making him responsible for the deaths and the bloodshed of war. Many are indeed delighted by his death.

I did not know Don Samuel closely. Yet, those times that we shared the same space, I was moved not only by his words but especially by his eyes and smile, which were tender, quiet and serene. I thought I saw in his eyes the spark of his renowned intelligence and perseverance even when I also perceived his weariness and fatigue.    

Living in San Cristobal for almost six years now, we got to see the fruits of Don Samuel’s work. We have shared bible studies and food with indigenous deacons he ordained. We heard the testimonies of peace work of indigenous catechist he taught. We were moved and amazed at the clarity and discernment they showed us speaking about a Gospel in “huaraches,” & an evangelization sensitive to the culture. They know about world & national politics, economy, poverty and oppression. They know about a God who gives them strength to fight for their rights in non violent ways. We were moved at the resilience of their ancestral wisdom and at the strong commitment to serve. “We learned from Tatik Samuel,” they told us.

Even though his work with his deep understanding of an indigenous “incarnated” gospel, clear on the powers that are stripping the life of the indigenous peoples away didn’t reach many Protestants and Evangelicals (given the history of suspicion & intolerance with the Catholic church); he modeled a way of being Christian, of seeking justice and peace. He modeled a way to restore dignity to those who build the kingdom of God. These fruits no one can take from him.

So, I cried along my Catholics and non Catholics friends because I understood his work as a work rooted in our common Christian faith, nurtured by a yearning for peace, a work of love. If you believe that Jesus’ love illuminates those who open their hearts to Him, then Tatik Samuel was a man who walked in Jesus’ way, not perfectly (no one is), but daring to risk everything because he love.

Some people said that we lose a prophet. I believe we gained a witness whose memory pushes us to run with perseverance the race set before us. [2] In the present turmoil of the world, Don Samuel's life tells me there is always a way for Hope. There is always a way for Peace. There is always a way for the Spirit to be.


[1] “Perfil Samuel Ruiz García, Tatik.”

[2] Hebrews 12:1.