Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 10, 2005
Coming face to face with evil
A priest stands up to a bully, a betrayer, then must watch him take back his turf
A Missionary's Musings
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
Yesterday we had the visit of the sisters who are working in the Chicamán Parish. Their major superior was visiting and they wanted us to meet her.
It turned out that this Sister Maria was a founding member of the sisters who came to the Chicamán parish in 1988.
At that time, there was a war going on in Guatemala with the army pitted against the guerrilla and countless people caught in between. These were years when thousands of innocent people were killed.
Tragically, two local men befriended the army and informed against their own people. As a result, many innocent people were rounded up by the army, tortured endlessly and killed.
When the sisters came to Chicamán at that time they were given the rectory as their quarters. Sister Maria told me that the room I'm presently occupying was her room at the time. Before moving in, the sisters had to do a major cleanup. This room had been used by the army as a torture chamber where many people were tortured and killed, thanks to the list given to the army by two well-known informers who are still living in the community.
Sister Maria mentioned something that shook me up: the walls and floor of the room were covered with dried-up human blood that they had to clean up. "Whose blood was it?" I asked. It was the blood of innocent people who were tortured and killed by the army. It was easy for a couple of people to cozy up to the army and to deliver now and then lists of people they wanted destroyed and they used the army to do it.
Two of these informers are neighbours, one is two doors down and the other is just across the street. One in particular is very active in the community. He has his nose into everything and acts as if he were the most honourable man in the community. People still fear the man who has proven to be ruthless in the past.
One thing that gritted me was that, without being one of the official ministers of Communion, this man would come up from his seat and would impose himself to the official ministers of Communion. He'd open the tabernacle and give the ciboria for Communion to the ministers and would give out Communion himself as well.
The Oblate stands firm
Recently I was presiding at Mass and he was there still running the ministers of Communion. After Communion, I was at the altar receiving the various ciboria when this man came up and physically pushed me so that he'd do the priest's job of sorting out the ciboria, emptying some.
The push that he gave me turned out to be a powerful wake-up call. I turned to him and told him: "You are not the celebrant here, I am. Go to your seat now," I ordered him, and he went.
The following Sunday he was coming up from his pew to take over from the official ministers of Communion again. But this time I cut him off at the pass, telling him that we did not need his services and to go back to his pew which he did.
He did not show up at Mass the following two Sundays. But last Sunday Father Sergio was presiding and the man came up at Communion time and ran the show as he used to. Sergio was offended, but couldn't quite tell him to get lost.
A dilemma that I feel is that this warped individual is also a parishioner; he's a member of Christ's flock. He's one of the many about whom Christ told his disciples: "Feed my sheep, take care of my flock."
So the other day I went to his shop and bought a Pepsi from him. We talked very briefly. I asked how he was. He was fine, he told me. End of conversation.
What would Jesus do?
I had to go, I told him, and so I went. I guess I should pray for him and ask for God's guidance. The Lord might suggest that I take the whip like he did in the Temple and clean up the mess.
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