Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Jim Martin’

Jesuit Says Gun Control Is a Religious Issue

Jesuit Father James MartinOn Friday, July 20, after the shooting rampage in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater that left 12 dead, Jesuit Father James Martin, culture editor at America magazine, posted the following on Facebook:

“Gun control is a pro-life issue. Pray for the families of the victims in Colorado, and for an end to the taking of life by violence.”

That post sparked a debate on Fr. Martin’s Facebook page that USA Today’s Faith & Reason blog reported on later that day, in a post titled “Would Jesus pack heat? Is gun control a God issue?”

On July 22, Fr. Martin expanded on his views in a post on America magazine’s blog. Fr. Martin stated that he is a religious person, not a political person, and that he believes gun control is a religious issue:

“It is as much of a ‘life issue’ or a ‘pro-life issue,’ as some religious people say, as is abortion, euthanasia or the death penalty (all of which I am against), and programs that provide the poor with the same access to basic human needs as the wealthy (which I am for). There is a ‘consistent ethic of life’ that views all these issues as linked, because they are.”

Fr. Martin wrote that he prays for the victims, but suggested that “our revulsion over these crimes, and our sympathy for victims, may be more than an invitation to prayer. Such deep emotions may be one way that God encourages us to act.”

Fr. Martin said religious people should meditate on “the connection between the more traditional ‘life issues’ and the overdue need for stricter gun control.”

Jesuit Offers Holy Week Lessons from an Unlikely Pontius Pilate

This week, Christians around the world commemorate the Passion of Christ, the remembrance of Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion and death. This final week of Lent before Easter Sunday, called Holy Week, began on Palm Sunday last Sunday and ends with Holy Saturday tomorrow. Today is Good Friday, marking Christ’s death on the cross.

While Holy Week is solemn and sorrowful, it also anticipates the joy of Easter through the recognition of God’s goodness in sending Jesus to die for our salvation. For Palm Sunday, well-known author Jesuit Father James Martin shared in Washington Post’s “On Faith”, the story of his nephew’s participation in a Lenten pageant. In the article below, Fr. Martin sees Holy Week through the eyes of a six-year-old.

Want to learn more about Holy Week? Below you can view Busted Halo’s “Holy Week in Two Minutes” to find out more. 

My six-year-old nephew Matthew called me a few weeks ago. This was an event in itself, since six-year-olds generally don’t initiate phone calls. At least my nephew doesn’t. “Uncle Jim,” he said, “Guess what?” (This is his normal way of starting a conversation.)

“What?” I said.

“I’m in the Lenten pageant at church!” Despite 24 years of Jesuit training, I had no idea what that was. So I asked.

“It’s kind of like a Christmas pageant,” he said, “but it’s about the crucifixion.” Okay. “And guess who I play?”

“Jesus?” I ventured.

“No! Better than that!”

What’s better than Jesus?

“Pontius Pilate!” he said.

My nephew had been cast as the Procurator of Judea in his church’s Lenten Pageant, which my sister described a kind of tableau vivant. Or a “Living Stations of the Cross,” as the church was calling it. While I had some concerns over whether the Passion narrative was appropriate storytelling for someone so young, I figured I would give the church the benefit of the doubt. Besides, what do I know about teaching six-year-olds?

“Are you excited?” I asked.

“Well,” said Matthew, “I’m a little sad because we have to crucify my best friend. And we use a real hammer and a nail.” This gave me pause. “We paint little red tears like blood on his hand, but it’s not for real.” Who was directing this pageant–Mel Gibson? (Later conversations with my sister revealed that the hammer and nail were props, and, obviously, not used.)

Over the next few days, I kept up to date about the Lenten pageant and my nephew’s passion about the play, which seemed to wax and wane. On the one hand, Matthew was disappointed when he discovered that Pontius Pilate was not, in fact, a pilot. On the other hand, last Sunday, during the recitation of the Creed, when the congregation reached the description of Jesus’s death and said, “For our sake, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate…” Matthew yelled out, “Pontius Pilate! Yay!” (Pilate normally doesn’t get shout-outs in church.)

The night after the big day, I spoke with Matthew. “So how was the pageant?”

“Well,” he said, considering things carefully, “there were three Jesuses.” (Several of his friends were enlisted to appear in several Stations of the Cross.) “But only one Pontius Pilate.” That pleased him. On the other hand, his flip-flops made his feet cold.

“And, Uncle Jim, I forgot to wash my hands!” (This was Pilate’s most famous physical act in the New Testament, betokening his attempt to disavow responsibility for the death of Jesus.) “First I was afraid I would do it early,” he said, clearly miffed. “Then I was afraid I’d do it too late. So I didn’t do it at all.”

Finally I asked, “Did the story make you sad?”

“Well,” he said, “it was a little sad. But everyone roses from the dead, and everyone lived happily ever after.”

So is such a lighthearted story inappropriate to recount on Palm Sunday? Yes and no.

Yes, it may be considered inappropriate because Palm Sunday invites us to meditate on the death of Jesus, perhaps the most serious topic in all Christian theology. Equally as serious are Jesus’s physical suffering on the day of his crucifixion, our own suffering, and the way in which we “participate” in Jesus’s suffering during our lives. For some people, the sufferings of Jesus allow them to identify more easily with the Son of God, who might otherwise seem far removed from such mundane concerns as physical pain. To paraphrase St. Paul, we do not have a God who does not understand us.

Thus, the model of Jesus as the man of sorrows is an important image for Christians. Not only does it reveal to us a model of suffering – that is, with forgiveness and without retribution – it also shows that God understands our struggles in the most intimate way imaginable.

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Jesuit Discusses God’s Job on The Colbert Report

Jesuit Father Jim Martin on The Colbert ReportJesuit Father Jim Martin, “chaplain” to the late night Colbert Report, recently stopped by the satirical show to answer some questions from political humorist and host Stephen Colbert about God’s job and job performance.

When asked what God’s job is, Fr. Martin said it is “sustaining the universe.” Colbert then asked if we can judge him. “No,” Martin said.

“I think we can try to understand the universe and God’s ways, but ultimately it is mysterious … things like famines, floods, natural disasters, these things have confounded theologians and saints for years,” Martin continued.

Martin said the question of why God allows these things to happen is really something we probably won’t be able to answer until the end of our lives when we meet God.

The comedian also asked Martin why God’s approval ratings are so low right now.

Martin said, “I think that frequently when people are thinking about God’s ‘performance rating’ or what they think about God, they are thinking of how things are in their lives. If you are a Christian … you look at Jesus and things didn’t always work out for him either.”

But Martin points out, “God would never destroy a relationship that he had created. So the relationship God has with you is something that’s going to endure forever.”

Earthquake, Tsunami Raise the Question of Suffering, Says Jesuit

Jesuit Father Jim MartinShare

Like many, Jesuit Father James Martin watched the tsunami after the Mar. 11 earthquake in Japan unfold on T.V.

For years now, Americans have been used to television that shows “reality that is unreal,” said Fr. Martin, who is the culture editor of America magazine.

“A lot of these reality shows are based on watching people suffer — watching them suffer physically, watching them suffer financially,” he said. “It’s important to recognize that we don’t have to create suffering in this world. There is suffering in this world.”

Martin said that nonbelievers may well have an easier time digesting the images from Japan than believers, because “the nonbeliever does not have to grapple with: How does a good God let this happen?

“Most people can make sense of what theologians call ‘moral evil’ — evil that comes from human decisions,” he said. “But natural disasters and catastrophic illnesses really test the believers’ faith. There is no satisfactory answer for why there is such suffering in the world on a natural level.”

Martin said that no explanation can fully satisfy that question of why we suffer, and “anyone who says they have the answer is either a fool or a liar.”

For more thoughts from Martin on the question of suffering, visit the L.A. Times and America magazine.

Jesuit Emphasizes Joy, Humor in One’s Spiritual Life

Jesuit Father Jim Martin at Loyola University ChicagoShare

Jesuit Father Jim Martin, author and cultural editor for America magazine, visited Loyola University Chicago earlier this month and gave a talk on “Laughing with the Saints: Joy, Humor and Laughter in the Spiritual Life.”

He said that people often approach their relationship with God with dead seriousness, but he said that “joy, humor and laughter share one’s faith in God.”

Fr. Martin said, “Humor sometimes seems to count as a strike against people in the church, when I think it should be seen as a requirement.

“I would bet that the man whose first miracle was to turn water into wine at a wedding feast understood the need for some high spirits in life,” he said.

“Live your own vocation joyfully,” he told his audience.