«Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope»
(Romans 5:3, 4, NIV).
IF YOU SEARCH WIkipedia in Spanish for the entry «MarIa de Bohόrquez» (1539-1559), you will discover this incredible paragraph about her; «Maria was a Sevillian young woman condemned in the [inquisition hearings] held in the city of Sevilla in 1559, for professing and disseminating the Protestant doctrine (what was then called»dogmatizing heresy»). Her dauntless defense of freedom of conscience surprised even the experienced inquisitorial secretaries, who left documentary evidence of the ardent and profound theological argumentation of which this young woman was capable. They also confirmed their failure, as confessors of the Inquisition, to obtain from the accused an abjuration in extremis, despite the rigor of the pressure that had been exerted against her.»
The history of Europe had dark centuries, and one of its darkest times was precisely the Spanish Inquisition, which attributed to itself the work of eradicating any belief that was not in conformity with the dogmas of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, to them eradicating the beliefs meant killing those who spread them. To achieve this, they created cruel instruments of torture that can still be viewed today in various churches in Spain.
Among the people who suffered pain and death because of their beliefs was Maria de Bohόrquez, who comes to our memory today to make us reflect on several issues of great spiritual importance. The first: to give us perspective on the level of our own sufferings. I think you will agree with me that the trials you and I experience do not compare to what Marfa had to go through. Without minimizing the real difficulties, we have in life, think about what it means to die simply because of what you believe. And from there derives my second reflection: how important freedom of conscience is, and how important it is to respect each other and what we each believe. We do not always succeed in this.
As a third point of reflection, this morning I turn to the Bible: «Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God» (2 Corinthians 1:3,4, NIV).»For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all» (2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV).