On March 24, 1980, Salvadoran Catholic priest Oscar Romero was shot and killed while celebrating mass. Following Jesus had led Romero to speak out against the abuses of the Salvadoran elite and to work for the rights of the people of El Salvador. These prophetic words and actions led many powerful people to perceive him as a threat.
Just as Martin Luther King Jr. had been a threat. And Ghandi.
A threat to the status quo. A threat to the comfortable lifestyles of many people. A threat to our illusions of individualism and self-sufficiency.
Lent seems a particularly appropriate time to consider the witness of Oscar Romero. And so I share a few words from Romero with you. (This is taken from a quote in my prayer readings for today from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.)
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts: it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is the Lord’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No sermon says all that should be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. . . . We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very, very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the Master Builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own.