The killing of a shepherd with ‘odor of the sheep’
NOBODY knows the motive of the murder of Fr. Mark Ventura. All are conjectures, as yet. Whatever it was, it must have been too serious to provoke the perpetrators to resort to killing him in cold blood, amid a Sunday crowd, while, reportedly, he was blessing the children after celebrating the mass.
Fr. Mark was rector of Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in Aparri, Cagayan before he was assigned last month as the director of San Isidro Labrador Mission Station in Mabuno Village, in Gattaran. In his barely seven years of priesthood, he was known for his anti-mining advocacy and for helping the indigenous people in Cagayan.
One can just surmise that, like an authentic prophet, he must have preached and lived the Gospel too substantially to rouse the anger of his perpetrators. The hurt hurled by his prophetic voice may have afflicted too deep those who thought that killing him would stop their distress. They are wrong. As Church history bears, killing the prophets strengthens and multiplies all the more the proclaimers of the Gospel message.
The archdiocese of Tuguegarao in a recent statement appealed to the authorities “especially to the PNP Task Force” to act swiftly in going after the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice.” But being a country with the pervasive culture of impunity, this call is going to fall on deaf ears—especially at this Duterte government when killing has been used to advance political agenda. But, again, this is wrong. Even though, for instance, the war on drugs or any other government-backed hype succeeds, which is actually very unlikely, it will still be a gross and horrible failure if the means towards it is the murder of its own citizens.
Fr. Mark has succeeded in delivering the Gospel message. His blood has been poured into the chalice of the blood of martyrs. In the words of Pope Francis, he was a shepherd with the “odor of the sheep.”