On the anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero, I thought it would be good to spend a little time with his writings. After a long day (and an even longer week) it was nice to finally get around to honoring the memory of this prophet of justice in the way his life truly deserves. Romero’s experience really speaks to my heart in a way that not as many other saints’ lives do. This is in large part because I feel as though I can really understand the story of complacency-turned-prophecy and the need that, I believe, all Christians inherently have to follow that path. His example inspires me, challenges me to live the Gospel more and more authentically and strive to be the prophet Christ calls each of us to be.
That Romero was appointed to his pastoral position because he wasn’t much more than a ‘yes man,’ yet was dramatically changed in heart and mind by the experience of truly — for the first time — really getting to know the plight of his people, says a lot about what the Holy Spirit is capable of doing in the lives of so many people. The Romero we all know, the Romero we celebrate today was not the Romero known to the world for most of his life. In fact, if he continued living that way no one would know who he was today.
Instead, he allowed God’s Spirit to work in his heart and transform his outlook into a prophetic glance, permitting the then Archbishop to see the world as it really was with the eyes of God. It was then that he was able to cry out with the confidence of a prophet against the injustices of the world. And he put his life on the line for that, dying as a martyr in this life, but living forever as a saint in the next.
Each time we look upon the poor, on the farm workers who harvest the coffee, the sugarcane, or the cotton, or the farmer who joins the caravan of workers looking to earn their savings for the year…remember, there is the face of Christ.
The face of Christ is among the sacks and baskets of the farm worker; the face of Christ is among those who are tortured and mistreated in the prisons; the face of Christ is dying of hunger in the children who have nothing to eat; the face of Christ is in the poor who ask the church for their voice to be heard. How can the church deny them this request when it is Christ who is telling us to speak for him?
Óscar Romero, our brother, pray for us!