Oscar Romero was trained by his father as a carpenter. That’s far from the only thing he shared with his Lord Jesus Christ. When he became a bishop in El Salvador, he was thought to be too conservative by some of his Liberation Theology colleagues. But the assassination of a close friend transformed him into a leading prophetic voice, so much so that over 100 members of the British Parliament nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978, a scant 17 months before he was himself assassinated by his government. Since then, he has been lauded by the world and beatified by his church in 2018 and is now Saint Oscar.
Shortly before his own death at the hands of a government, with the collusion of religious authorities and crowds shouting for it, Jesus told his disciples: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Early Church Father Tertullian is credited with having said to the leaders of the Roman Empire regarding Christianity: “We are not a new philosophy but a divine revelation.That’s why you can’t just exterminate us; the more you kill, the more we are. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Or as Jesus said right after his wheat analogy, “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).
The call to follow Jesus Christ grabbed Oscar Romero at an early age and never let him go. May the same be said of us.
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
today I recognize my limitations and my miseries,
but I cannot renounce the role that you have given me:
to be the sign
of the church’s teaching and truth;
the sign of your love
at work in the world.
Lead me always to be that sign. Amen.
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To educate this week:
Send letters to your elected officials and your local press regarding the experiences and treatment of immigrant people.
To cultivate growth this week:
Host an event to empower your congregation and communities to show hospitality to immigrant people.
To advocate this week:
Advocate against efforts of authorities to intimidate the immigrant community.
Linda Harris is a local pastor currently serving Jenkins Memorial UMC in Raleigh. Charles Michael Smith is a retired elder in the North Carolina Conference residing in Washington, NC.