15 September, 2008

lessons from Romero...


After a long struggle for social justice in Columbia, while performing a funeral mass in the Chapel of Divine Providence Hospital, Archbishop Oscar Romero was shot to death by a paid assassin.

Only moments before his death, he had reminded the mourners of the parable of wheat. His prophetic words:
“Those who surrender to the service of the poor through love of Christ
will live like the grain of wheat that dies…The harvest comes because of
the grain that dies…We know that every effort to improve society, above
all when society is so full of injustice and sin, is an effort that God
blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.”

During his two years as Bishop of Santiago de Maria Romero crisscrossed
his diocese on horseback, talking with laboring families to learn how he could
best serve them. The reality of their lives horrified the bishop. Every day he
discovered children dying because their parents could not pay for simple
penicillin; people who were paid less than half of the legal minimum wage; people
who had been savagely beaten for “insolence” after they asked for long overdue
pay. Romero began using the resources of the diocese—and his own personal
resources—to help the poor, but he knew that simple charity was not enough. He
wrote in his diary:
“The world of the poor teaches us that liberation will arrive only when the
poor are not simply on the receiving end of handouts from government or
from churches, but when they themselves are the masters and
protagonists of their own struggle for liberation.”

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