Audacity by Fr. Tony Moreno SJ, SJ| 03 Nov 20, Tuesday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time.

Born and bred in Stuttgart, Germany, Blessed Rupert Mayer entered the Society of Jesus in 1900, a year after his priestly ordination. During the First World War, he became an Army Chaplain working bravely in the trenches, and giving the sacraments to soldiers. In 1916, he lost his leg after a grenade blast. He was the first chaplain to be given the Iron Cross for his audacity. He was an outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler and Nazism. Despite the prohibition imposed on him by civil authorities, he continued his fearless opposition against them in his sermons. He came out publicly denouncing the cruelties that the Jews, Poles and other migrants endured during that time. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1940. He was transferred to prisons and concentration camps during the war. Because he was such a popular figure, the Nazi authorities were careful not to make of him a martyr. Due to failing health and pressure from some quarters, he was released from prison. While preaching on 01 November 1945, he suffered a fatal stroke and died. Known as “the Apostle of Munich,” he was tireless in giving 70 talks a month, hearing confessions, preaching courageously, and celebrating Masses at the Munich Railway Station for travelers. He exposed the fake news spread by the civil authorities who were blinded by Nazism. He was a man of courage and audacity. He was so focused on God and what God invited him to do. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1987.

In today’s first reading, we hear the familiar preaching of St Paul: “Have yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who thought he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…. He humbled himself becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” Rupert Mayer in a way emptied himself. Rather than stay in his comfort zone, he was totally given to God’s mission despite the risks. He fought for justice and protection for the Jews and the migrants despite the opposition. He was quite unlike the people in the Gospel who made excuses to reject the invitation of the dinner host. One had just purchased a piece of land, the other five yoke of oxen. One had just got married. So many reasons which are good, but they got in the way of an invitation to have fellowship with the host. Rupert Mayer did not have excuses to give in the face of oppression and exclusion of races.

His prayer captured his life and his relationship with God. “Lord, let happen whatever you will; and as you will, so will I walk; help me only to know your will! Lord, whenever you will, then is the time; today and always. Lord, whatever you will, I wish to accept, and whatever you will for me is gain; enough that I belong to you. Lord, because you will it, it is right; and because you will it, I have courage. My heart rests safely in your hands!” This was the basis of his audacity, not sheer positive thinking.

There are many ways to express one’s audacity for the mission. After typhoon Rolly, another one will come, and more, even worse ones, will come in due time. But we never seem to learn the lesson about climate change and global warming. Three decades ago, scientists have raised the red flag about global warming, but we are not paying enough attention to curb climate change. Unless there is audacity on our part to make modest contributions to reduce global warming, unless our style of life changes, unless we take bold steps, then our prayers will not mean much to reduce the fury of these typhoons. Act boldly now or be sorry later. Let us be inspired by the audacity of Rupert Mayer. He prayed but he also acted courageously. There was a mission and he was simply focused on that, no ifs, no buts; nothing more, nothing less.

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