Holy Day of Justice: Oscar Romero of the Americas
Holy Day of Justice: Oscar Romero of the Americas (March 24)
Today marks the 34th anniversary of Romero’s martyrdom. Oscar Romero (1917-1980), Roman Catholic archbishop of El Salvador, was a powerful leader in the struggle for human rights, epecially among the poor. He was assasinated on March 24, 1980. In a homily shortly before his murder he said, “If they kill me I will rise again in the Salvadoran people. As a pastor I am obligated to give my life to those I love, and that is all Salvadorans. My death, if it is accepted by God, will be the liberation of my people and be like a testimony of hope in the future. A bishop will die but the church of God, that is this people, will never perish.”
The present form of the world passes away,
and there remains only the joy of having used this world
to establish God’s rule here.
All pomp, all triumphs, all selfish capitalism,
all the false successes of life will pass
with the world’s form.
All of that passes away.
What does not pass away is love.
When one has turned money, property, work in one’s calling
into service for others,
then the joy of sharing
and the feeling that all are one’s family
does not pass away.
In the evening of life you will be judged on love.
– Oscar Romero
Monsignor Romero was called “the voice of the voiceless,” but it seems a misapellation; the four million poor that he defended weren’t lacking in ability to articulate their condition; their bishop was rather the spokesman for those to whom no one would listen. As a martyr, he partook of the eighth sacrament, accepting the ultimate sacrifice. But martyr does not connote in the original Greek the acceptance of death – matur means “witness,” one who testifies with his very being, body and soul, and this he accomplished as an ordinary man, intractable and patient in his defense of the truth.
– Carolyn Forché, writing in Martyrs: Contemporary Writers on Modern Lives of Faith