Thought for the Day by Nigel Greenwood (St Chad’s)
Reading: John 12:1-11
Today we commemorate Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, assassinated in 1980 as he was celebrating Mass in the Chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence. He was declared a martyr, beatified on in 2015 and canonised in 2018. Throughout his ministry in San Salvador Oscar Romero spoke out powerfully against poverty, social injustice, assassinations, and torture amid a war between different internal factions.
It is perhaps no coincidence that we remember Oscar Romero on the day when our Gospel reading tells how the chief priests were planning to kill Jesus as well as Lazarus for as we are told: ‘Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.’
Just as Jesus was seen as posing a threat to the established order, so Romero challenged the state, as in one of his sayings: ‘A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed – what gospel is that ?’ Like so many martyrs down the ages, he was driven not only by his faith but also seeking to bring about social change, which emerged in response to the poverty and repression of ordinary people.
In a letter read out during the beatification ceremony, Pope Francis described Romero as ‘a friend in faith, who invokes a strength and energy to build the kingdom of God’.
So, it is surely right on this day to give the final words to Saint Oscar Romero ………
‘If we are worth anything, it is not because we have more money or more talent, or more human qualities. Insofar as we are worth anything, it is because we are grafted onto Christ’s life, His cross and resurrection … That is a person’s measure.’
This tribute by CAFOD tells us more about the life of Oscar Romero:
For your information … our programme of Thoughts for the Day will be paused during Holy Week and Easter, enabling our churches to explore other seasonal materials and also give the writers a well-deserved break ! We will then continue with TFTD’s from 12th April to 12th May, covering the wonderful resurrection stories from the Morning Prayer Lectionary. There will be a further pause between Ascension Day (13th May) to Pentecost (23rd May) again bringing an opportunity to engage with other resources.