Br. Michael, ofm
When I was a teenager, I attended several Youth Conferences or Rallies sponsored by the Archdiocese. Each one had a theme with speakers, sessions and activities based on that theme. As I recall one of the themes was Micah 6.8, “The Lord requires you to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” We were awakened to harsh realities that youth from around the world were experiencing. We were also introduced to people that had or were doing something about it. In an odd activity for a youth conference, they had us gather in our small groups and watch a movie. This was not the norm for these types of events. I believe the movie we watched had just been released in the preceding year. I remember watching in awe the brutal reality of people being persecuted by their own government. I was in shock by the way the church was tormented and innocent people killed. Even as the movie ended and the main character was killed, there was not a sense of hopelessness rather one of promise, of a better way, of doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.
The movie we watched was called Romero. It is based on the life of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, El Salvador, who was martyred well celebrating Mass in March of 1980. The movie was made just some 9 years later. This powerful movie introduced me to a man who has challenged me to consider how I serve those in need, how I defend truth, what is justice and how do I sacrifice so others may have life. (If you have not seen the movie it is worth watching.)
I think of Saint Oscar Romero each Lent. He seems to be a good saint for the Lenten journey and sneaks in and says “how are you doing? do you hear the cry of the poor? will you risk a change of heart like I did? will you walk humbly with our God today?” These are all good questions for this season. This season of wake-up calls and reality checks on my living. It’s also not only during Lent that he seems to whisper in my heart. At other times in the year, I can seem to hear his words trying to awaken me to the plight of so many people. At times I feel paralyzed with what I should do and say and yet I try to find simple ways to rise up with God’s people calling for justice. Even learning about the plight of others is a starting point.
Oscar Romero is a good companion for our Lenten journey, for he too had a conversion of heart as the bishop of San Salvador. His conversion caused him to rise up and be one with his people. As this Third Week of Lent unfolds and we mark the one-year point of Covid-19 pandemic, Oscar Romero stands next to us. He asks us to be present to those suffering. He asks us to do something for the good of all people. He asks us to turn to the Crucified One and know he is our strength. I am always grateful for that movie as part of the youth conference. Today I am grateful that the voice and wisdom of Saint Oscar Romero challenges me to look at my Lenten actions and also my living beyond this season.
Saint Oscar Romero says remember “Let us not tire of preaching love, it is the force that will overcome the world. Let us not tire of preaching love… love must win out; it is the only thing that can.” This is still the call for justice, kindness and walking humbly with our God in our time. Let us preach love in word and deed in the Lenten days ahead.
Lent is a time to return to our baptismal call of priest, prophet and king. Oscar Romero puts it this way: “You must be God’s microphone, each one of you must be a messenger, a prophet.” This is a clear message that we each have a role to play in building the kingdom of God, let us return to our true calling.
“The church will always exist as long as there is one baptized person. And that one baptized person who is left in the world is responsible before the world for holding aloft the banner of the Lord’s truth and his divine justice.” With this thought Oscar Romero asks us to recall the dignity and the challenge of our baptism. Lent is a time to be renewed but also a time to step up for justice.
As we journey in this Third Week of Lent, let us ask St. Oscar Romero to be our companion. Let us rise up and be a church of true justice, of loving kindness and humility to make known the generosity and mercy of our God.
Blessings on the Lenten journey.
St. Oscar Romero walk with us and pray for us.
Icon: St. Oscar Romero
by C. Ziprick – Soul Sibling Studios ©