Carmen Matty, a returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner who worked in Tanzania, reflects on what it means to suffer for doing the right thing.
Last September I was approached by a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, Susan Nagele, who also served in Tanzania, with the greeting, "habari yako?" or "how are you?" The literal translation from Swahili to English would be, "what is your news?"
Susan invited me to write a scripture reflection for this office. I was given various dates and read the readings. Then I chose this Sunday’s readings as the ones that spoke to me. Fast forward to May 2020. As I reread the readings, I asked myself, what spoke to me back then about these readings? Why did I choose them?
Honestly, I cannot remember! What captures my spirit this time around is surely not related to the “news” I was reflecting on in September. Given all that is going on right now with COVID-19, what stands out for me is, “And if it is the will of God that you should suffer, it is better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong" (1 Peter 3:17).
I recalled this reading when I read about the security guard who was recently killed in Michigan for asking others to wear masks. I do not know why I came across this story, but I do know that God calls us to act uprightly, which is often more difficult than doing the wrong thing. The right thing asks of us to not only think and act regarding ourselves, but to think of the other first, as we do not exist without one another.
This concept resonated with me especially as someone who was a Missioner in Tanzania. Countless times the Tanzanian people we worked with shared the little they had with us. I learned that, basically, the Tanzanian people do not have a concept of “me,” but rather a concept and value of “we.” And this “we” is exactly what the security guard was standing up for that day he lost his life.
Let us continue to read and listen to more news of people's actions showing that our dignity and humanity are tied to one another! Let us live out the “WE” in our common humanity!