Sister Maria Agustina Rivas: Sign of The Kingdom
Twenty-eight years have passed since a group of terrorists assassinated Aguchita and it has been two years since we initiated the process of her beatification. This allows us to review, look at and rediscover how God is revealed in the ordinariness of everyday life, as we reflect on Aguchita’s life, our personal and community realities, as well as our life as a province. In the same way, contemplating God who never tires of loving with tenderness, compassion, and mercy impels us to live our apostolic zeal in a creative way for today’s world.
When Pope Francis began his ministry as pastor of the church, he challenged us with the apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, to live the joy of the Gospel: “Evangelize and go out to the margins,” an everyday practice in the life of Aguchita. Being in the margins gave witness to persons she accompanied in the formative process of empowerment. She was present with her total self: joyful, smiling, patient, welcoming and attentive to others’ needs. These characteristics are sign and seed of the Kingdom. So, is this a commemoration or an impetus for our journey?1
Sign of Joy
It is an indisputable, authentic expression of the follower of Jesus. It is about sowing the seeds of joy, the joy of the gospel, by means of a happy life that spreads happiness and is more effective than many discourses, homilies, or catechesis.
Sign of an Ecological Conscience
The encyclical, Laudato Si’, raises “the urgent challenge to protect our common home and includes the concern to unite the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.”2 In this sense, Aguchita loved nature and promoted recycling. The seminarians called her “Sister Lettuce” in reference to a photo that shows her carrying a head of lettuce. It was only a symbol of her conscious commitment to an integrated care of creation.
Sign of Attentive Listening to God and the Reality of Women
Today more than ever, we need to sharpen our hearing to the cries of women who are victims of gender-based violence and to be attentive to the high rates of femicide. This painful reality is becoming increasingly acute. We are on the tenth day of January 2019, and the lives of six women have ended. We ask ourselves, “What would be Aguchita’s reaction?” What would her life tell us today? We can respond with the words of Clare Nolan, RGS: “If the memory of Aguchita is of any value, may it serve as a model of a person who was inspired by the Gospel to respond to the needs of her time, the needs of the world that she experienced, as well as the needs that were revealed to her by others.”3
Therefore, Aguchita is for us a call that cries out that we can be saints in the little things of everyday life. Like her, holy women and men put their trust not in their qualifications but in God and look for God in prayer, find God in his Word, in creation, and in others, because all life is full of God. Aguchita became a saint through effort, perseverance, and sacrifice.4 Her martyrdom was not a coincidence and the external circumstances have least significance. Aguchita responded to the grace of God in the little things of everyday life. Like her, we are all called to be holy.5 For this we thank you, Aguchita, and ask you to continue encouraging us, making us happy, smiling and welcoming, the way you did so many things in your life.
Bloch E. osb “Aguchita, ¿Conmemoración o aguijón para nuestro caminar?”. Caminamos contigo Aguchita.
2Laudato SÍ, Carta Encíclica N° 13.
3 Nolan C.RGS, “Memoria y meditación: una reflexión personal”
4 Tapia I., “Homilía del 26 de setiembre 2018” – Vicariato de San Ramón.
5Gaudate et Exsultate , Exhortación Apostólica sobre la Santidad N° 14 Papa Francisco.