TO THE COMPLETE STRIPPING AWAY

 

Funeral services 
October 5, 1990, 
Church of the Immaculate Conception, 
Jesuit Fathers 

 

We are gathered together to celebrate a paschal event. The mystery of a life that bursts forth vigorously and fruitfully, after the grain of wheat has been buried in the earth. 

Who was María Agustina Rivas? 

She was a religious sister, born in Ayacucho, who was called one day to follow in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd. We saw her journey onward in complete dedication, offering up her life step by step, sowing peace, silent and serene. With the maturity of her 70 years of age and rather fragile in health, she chose to work in an emergency zone, where the presence of the merciful Shepherd was necessary and vital. She worked there for three years; like a strong column, she offered support to her sisters and was an angel to the villagers. That is until eight days ago, when her Shepherd called her for the last time. He gave her the honor of shedding her blood for the sheep. 

But our sister Agustina did not die alone. To the list of the six villagers who fell alongside her, we can add the numerous victims whose names we do not know and whose number grows daily. 

In this Eucharist, in which we offer the blood of Jesus, another victim of violence returns to the Father, the cry of all the blood shed, coupled with the blood of Christ that speaks of better things than that of Abel (Heb. 12:24) 

As God's people, our celebration also wants to proclaim our faith in the Gospel. We want to be and live as the Church of the Poor to the complete stripping away of self. 

Amid our pain, we dare to proclaim the power of mercy and the redemptive power of forgiveness, with the sentiments of Jesus the Good Shepherd. "How unique are the ways of our Father! What a reward for commitment! María Agustina is now at the altar of the Congregation's heart and, of course, at the altar of the heart of her people" (Message from the General Counselor). 

The memory of these deaths, of Christ's, of María Agustina's, and of all the innocent victims, commits us to faithfully follow the Good Shepherd who stripped himself of his life so that we may have life in abundance (Jn. 10:10). 

Sisters and brothers who have journeyed with us during this time of pain and hope, we deeply appreciate your presence in this Eucharist, and we invite you to say together with our Sister Agustina: "I will sing of the loving kindness of the Lord forever" (Ps. 89). 

Provincial Leader 
October 5, 1990