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Romerian Christology Human Rights

(By Jaime Sevilla, MAPM, M.Th)

We all know that as human beings we have the right to life, to a good diet and education, to have a decent and well-remunerated job in order to support the family, a roof where we live; to be and feel free to think, speak and act; access to health services, etc.

These are some rights that every human being must have. All institutions, political, religious, economic, private and public; they must work together to maintain these elementary rights of every human being; but, in the time of Saint Oscar Romero, all these rights were violated completely. The people were oppressed, exploited, marginalized, murdered; prey of fear, violence and death.

The saddest thing of all this is that it was propitiated by the same state, supported by the upper and oppressive class; and, on many occasions, with the complicity of some members of the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Romero, being an experiential witness of all these abuses of human dignity, did not hesitate to raise his voice to denounce the violation of human rights of his people. And it is that, if something was clear about our prophet, is that he could not remain silent before so much outrage of our human nature.

Saint Oscar Romero knew very well the value of our humanity, a value that is not measured by social, political, economic or religious position; but for the fact of being a human being itself.

First moment in the history of Creation in which the value we have as human beings is manifested: “Let us make human beings in our image and likeness ... in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them” (see Gn 1:26-27).

It is important to understand this dignity from the moment of our conception. We are the image of God, that is, He created us eternal as He is; this is to be an image, in which we share eternity with Him. As if this were not enough, He also created us in His likeness; understanding this as the development of our capacity to love; the more we love our brothers and sisters, the more we resemble God.

Therefore, we must all worry about everyone; Saint Oscar Romero understood perfectly the depth of this value; from this came his total dedication to defending and accompanying this suffering people, those human beings in whom day by day were violated the image and likeness that they shared with our Creator. The voice of the prophet was no other than the voice of God, calling all those responsible for such violations, to stop doing so much harm to the most vulnerable; since, in doing so with the poor and humble, they also do it against themselves.
Saint Oscar Romero wishes, with all his being, that we understand the reasons why we should respect and love each other, take care of ourselves and help each other. We are the image of God. Every time we mistreat a human being, we mistreat God himself, and we turn away from Him. But when we stand in solidarity with the one who suffers, with the marginalized, with those who are violated in their human rights; then we resemble God more, we unite ourselves more to Him; This is the way through which we grow in true love. Remember that beautiful phrase of our prophet: “Let us have patience, let us endure, eternal life will come”
(September 3, 1978).

A phrase that has that beatific vision of destiny that will be inherited by those who trust in the Lord in the midst of their sorrows. A phrase full of love and consolation for those who suffer, who cry, who have no voice, who are marginalized. Jesus himself already said it, “happy are those who mourn, because they will receive comfort” (Mt 5:4).

But within this sentence, we can also see the suffering of our saint, especially when he saw and lived the sufferings of his sheep, his friends, his brothers. At the same time, it is a phrase that gives hope. That is why he himself is included in it, because he endorses the hope of this people who mourn, who cry ever stronger for justice before the altar of God; that altar, which is none other than the Salvadoran land itself, because it is in this land where so many innocents are killed. Today we can say that there are also other altars, let’s mention some: the land of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Syria, Bethlehem of Judah, the United States, Siri Lanka, etc.

Certainly, Saint Oscar Romero continues to live and accompany all these realities that we have around the world. Where there is a violation of human rights, there is our saint with his prophetic and evangelical voice; making us the call to conversion and solidarity with all who suffer. No pastor should ignore those desperate cries that arise from so many families separated and destroyed. No pastor should be indifferent to the pain and marginalization of those who suffer, of immigrants. Saint Oscar Romero makes the following call to the pastors in one of his homilies: “The Pastor must be where the suffering is” (October 30, 1977).

Second moment in the history of our creation, where our values as human beings acquires a superior dignity. Reading a little more about our saint, he said, “No man knows himself until he has met God” (February 10, 1980).

Everything begins with the disposition of a young girl in the town of Nazareth, when God asks her if she wishes to be the mother of our Savior. After a dialogue between God and she, she said the most beautiful of her phrases: Fiat (be). “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your Word” (cf. Lk 1:38).

This moment is precisely the first encounter of the human being with God in depth. It is the moment when the Virgin Mary conceived Jesus, Emmanuel, in her womb. It is where for the first time that union of the human with the Divine occurs in matter and spirit, in time and space; it is in the womb of the maiden of Nazareth that a new history of our human nature begins and which leaves it eternally divinized.

When human being meditates and deepens consciously of the magnitude that this means, the injustices, the persecution, the marginalization and so many unnecessary sufferings will be finished; since, by living in God, with God and by God, our whole being is transformed into that human nature redeemed, liberated and perfected by Jesus Christ; transformation that begins in the incarnation, and concludes in the resurrection.

Now every human being is another Emmanuel on Earth, another Christ; therefore, each of us must treat ourselves as who we are: the image and presence of the invisible God in his People. And precisely this was the reason why Saint Oscar Romero took pain to defend the dignity of the members of his beloved people. He saw in each human being’s face, the living presence of God himself; that is why he was hurt to see so much sufferings; it was terrifying to see what we had become, instruments of destruction of ourselves.

It hurt him to see the silence and indifference of some bishops and priests in the face of so much pain and death; that is why they were his desperate calls to conversion and love.

When the person meets God, he or she is able to get to know him or herself, to value our acquired dignity in Jesus Christ, to understand that there are no enemies for the baptized, because we are all brothers. Saint Oscar Romero loves everyone equally, regardless of social positions, political tendencies, ideologies, etc. Our saint wishes that we all meet God, it is the only way we learn to value and respect ourselves. Our martyr knows that this is the only way to stop this human rights violation of his People.

That is why, seeing that the oppressive parties do not stop marginalizing and killing so many innocent people, in an attempt to make his listeners to reflect.
He wrote letters, met with whoever was necessary to beg, ask, order that all violence that tramples on the dignity of the human being must be stopped; But when he saw that no one was listening, he made a strong appeal in the homily of March 23, 1980, a day before he was killed on the altar when he was celebrating Holy Mass, he said: “I beg of you, I request you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression!”

A personal story that I remember with great affection was when the UN gave a prize to Mayor Oscar Ortiz of Santa Tecla, El Salvador; since also that same day, they gave us the great news of the appointment of the day of the right to the truth, in honor of the legacy of Saint Oscar Romero. At the end of this article, I will put the decree of the UN.
We ask Saint Óscar Romero to intercede with the heavenly Father so that our ears and hearts may be opened to hear his message, so that repression ceases in all those countries where there is so much pain, persecution and death; so that each pastor lives and walks with his sheep whose human rights are violated; so that we all understand that only by meeting God, do we change our way of being, thinking and acting; only by meeting God, do we build the Kingdom of God together and promote the civilization of love and fraternity. So be it.

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 21 December 2010
https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/65/196

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