I confess that martyrdom is one of the hinges on which many things of my vocation have revolved. The martyrdom of an uncle of mine, who was a priest, marked me from childhood. My mother, and also my uncles and aunties, told me many times his story. I never heard a word of hatred or vengeance against their executioners. Of my uncle Manuel, good man and martyr, I keep as a precious relic two coins that he kept in his pocket the moment they sacrificed him. On the other hand, the Claretians of the community of my native city, Jaén, were the first to be martyred in the Spanish war of 1936. How many times have I been able to walk through the orchard of the convent where those five Claretians gave their lives! Their misfortunes were forever imprinted on my soul.
Perhaps for this reason, it gives me a familiar shudder every one of the 109 stories of my Claretian brothers who are going to be beatified. In particular I am impressed by the tenacity and integrity of Brother Fernando Saperas in defending his chastity to such unbearable limits that he continues to magnetize to this day the neighbors of Tárrega, his hometown.
The martyrs confirm that my Claretian vocation – like their own – contains a force of salvation. I am, like them, a person capable of completing with my life what is lacking in the passion of the Lord. Perhaps I will never see myself in front of a murderous rifle, nor suffer the blows, mistreatments and scorn that they received with impunity. But I can never doubt that any gesture of love toward God or toward my brothers and sisters, however small and although no one notices it, is precious to expand the Kingdom. I collaborate to create a new world every time I give the best of myself.