Oscar Romero – March 19, 2014

I never tire of reading about the life of Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, and this week’s spiritual hero. Born in 1917, he was one of those people whose life is transformed by the events surrounding him. And, having been transformed himself, he changed the lives of many others. For this, he paid the supreme sacrifice. Romero began his religious career as a conservative Christian. However, this changed in 1977 when a progressive Jesuit friend was assassinated. Romero soon began protesting the Salvadoran government’s ruthless policies of persecution and torture. He took his complaints to Pope John Paul II. He also pleaded with the American government, which was providing money, military support and armaments to the government. He soon became a marked man. On March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass at a small chapel near his cathedral, he was shot to death.

Though his killing shocked many, the “dirty war” in El Salvador continued. Nine months later, four Maryknoll nuns were killed. In 1989, nine Jesuit priests were killed. Countless other El Salvadorans also died. Rather than offer the lectionary prayer for Romero’s feast day, here are his own words about the journey of faith: We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. … We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.

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