Today is the 30th anniversary of the murder of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. On March 24, 1980, Romeo presided at a special evening mass. That evening he proclaimed from the Gospel of John that “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains only a grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” As he concluded his sermon, which preached the need to give one’s life for others as Christ did, he was shot in the heart and died almost immediately.
Romero was tireless in his call for solidarity with the poor and oppressed, a voice for those who had no voice. He was strident in his denunciation of violence and called for a culture of peace and an end to the killings that were destroying his country.
He was criticized by many for being too political in his sermons. But that was a criticism he would not hear, believing that it was the mission of the Church to “save the world in its totality and to save it in history, here and now.” He exhorted that “We cannot segregate God’s word from the historical reality in which it is proclaimed. That would not be God’s word… It is God’s word because it enlightens, contrasts with, repudiates, or praises what is going on today in this society.” His duty, he believed, was to help people to apply the Gospel to their own lives and to the reality of the world in which he lived. “We turn the gospel’s light onto the political scene, but the main thing for us is to light the lamp of the gospel in our communities.”
Today we remember Oscar Romero, martyr, friend to the poor and prophet of justice. May we remember him by heeding his call.