Homily from Mass to Celebrate the Life of Archbishop Oscar Romero

Mar 29, 2010
Homily of Terrence Devino, S.J. 
Vice President for University Ministries
Mass to Celebrate the Life of Archbishop Oscar Romero 
March 24, 2010

     Oscar Romero gave his life in the hope that peace and justice would one day become a reality.  He lives on now in all those who carry on the nonviolent struggle for justice and peace . With these words, Fr. John Dear, S.J., Peace Activist, writes of his hopes and belief in the resurrection of Romero in our day and in our lives and especially in the lives of the people of El Salvador.

     The Evangelist John we hear in today’s Gospel writes of Jesus in the midst of his struggle for justice and peace, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and the truth will set you free.” John the disciple, and each of us, live in hope and belief in the resurrection of Jesus in our day and in our lives and especially in the lives of the people of El Salvador.

     In January, the Administrators’ Conference of The University of Scranton traveled to San Salvador for a week. It was a pilgrimage of sorts. St. Ignatius would call it a trial to test the Spirits. Others would refer to those days as graced, a time of grace and blessing – moments that rattled, stretched and challenged the heart.

     All around us, in this land of Romero, were reminders of the journey and struggle for justice of those whose lives were lost because they believed in what was good and what was right. All around us, in this land of Romero were stories and voices needing to be heard, chapters from the pages of life that still some 30 years later must be seen, touched, heard and felt. No, not by the eye, the hand or the ear, but by the human heart.       

     One day we spent time at a school for the little ones of this country, some 600 grammar school students in a very poor, violent and yet beautiful part of the city. One becomes numb to the poverty. The violence is palpable but not near. The beauty is found in the faces of those who live, work and minister there.

     A nun, a principal, an elderly Irish sister, spoke of her daily walk through the village she lives and works in.  She passes men who she knows spend their day selling drugs to the most vulnerable.  One day, one of these men had with him his little boy. As she passed by, the child grabbed the hand of this nun and handed her a small baggy of fresh water, clean water.  As she looked at him, the little child said, “This is for you, so that you not tire from the journey.” 

     “So that you not tire from the journey.” In the words of Oscar Romero this little child was for this nun, and I hope for each of us, “A prophet of a future not our own.”

     The children stretched our hearts and touched those spaces within ourselves that are most vulnerable. Father Pilarz and I celebrated Mass in the chapel where Romero was murdered.  As I looked down the aisle and out the door to where gunmen were positioned 30 years ago, I now saw children on those steps –  smiling, watching, observing. They were quietly looking at the gringo in their chapel. I could hear, not with my ears but with my stretched heart, their voices and laughter offering refreshment and hope. They were clearly gifting me so that I not tire from the journey.

     Romero said:   “If they kill me, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people…”

     Jesus said:  “I will raise you up on the last day….”

     Easter approaches. The passion is before us. The story needs to once again be heard. Listen. Listen well. So that we together might not tire from the journey, but press on to make the resurrection known to all in our midst.

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