Romerian Christology

(by Jaime Sevilla, MAPM, M.Th)

The great event that has revolutionized the Church in the 60’s and continues to impact us today, was the convocation of the Second Vatican Council by Saint John XXIII, the good Pope; and also, the inclusive conclusions of the same Council promulgated by Saint Paul VI.

There was a great friendship between these two saints. Saint Paul VI gave much encouragement to Bishop Oscar Romero in the defense of the dignity of his People and the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God in the light of the Gospel; and, in the light of the interpretation of the council fathers.

Everyone is aware of the rising of the voices that cry out for Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero to be declared Doctor of the Church; and, with a good reason, since the Romeriana Christological Vision, very own of the Martyr Saint Oscar Romero; not only is it trustworthy to the message proclaimed by Jesus Christ two thousand years ago; but, that message updated it, embodied it, and deepened it in the realities of our time, in the practice of day to day with his people.

I am also convinced that this Romerian Christological vision will enlighten individuals, institutions and Peoples; both in the experiences of their own stories, and in their different realities to come. All the above is thanks to Jesus Christ being the same of the past, the present and the future. In Him, everything is an eternal present. Only a true disciple of Christ, anointed with His Spirit, has the Grace, strength, perseverance and courage to announce an authentic and complete Gospel in the circumstances that our Saint, Prophet and Martyr came to live. I would like to highlight three essential points of this Christological vision:

1. - The call: Archbishop Romero since his childhood, guided by those simple parents, discovered little by little the call and mission that God asked him to do. This call and mission was understood, developed, and matured throughout his life; he never imagined what his death would be like; nor how misunderstood would his message become at a particular moment in his ministry; not even the light and hope that it would spread in the Universal Church; and, in particular, in the People of El Salvador and Latin America. Simply, as his Master, he let himself to be guided to fulfill the Will of the Heavenly Father, which was infused into his being on the same day he received his holy baptism.

This gives us strength, joy, and hope to those of us who try to live and announce the Kingdom of God through this Romerian Christological vision.

2. - The Answer to his call: with a spirit of humility, of service to the most needy and with a deep spirituality and faith, marked from his childhood; he began to respond to his call. His entrance to the seminary undoubtedly marked a new stage in his life. The development of his studies and his priestly ordination would prepare him to respond with passion to the insults that he would find later in his ministry.

However, his episcopal ordination was a key moment; it prepared him to understand more deeply God’s purpose in his life. On the other hand and against all odds, his appointment as Archbishop of San Salvador, was the scenario that God had prepared, so that through his prophetic voice, Jesus Christ could make shine his Glory and mercy with the poorest, vulnerable, marginalized, exploited and suffered from Salvadoran society. That is right, after the deadly experience of his friend Rutilio Grande, SJ, came alive that prophetic flame that had been prepared throughout his life.

Following the example of his Master, he endorsed the Sermon on the Mount, and began to teach us to discover the true presence of Jesus Christ in every poor, and in each suffering and marginalized brother. Yes, that is the Romerian Christological Vision, the teaching of a complete Gospel and not mutilated to its People. Because when we keep silence before the injustices, the sufferings of others, the violation of human rights, especially the most vulnerable; we do not preach the Gospel of Christ, but we preach our own gospel and that does not save anyone.

In his homily of October 30, 1977, Romero said: “The Pastor has to be where the suffering is”. Father Rutilio Grande understood this message perfectly, that is why he was always accompanying this suffering people. Later, also, in a convinced way, our prophet and martyr, San Oscar Romero, would do it. That’s right, Monsignor Romero was discovering in each face of suffering, the living Christ.

His own people, marginalized and exploited, revealed to him the true face of Christ Jesus; discovered in the poor, one more chapter of the fifth gospel that continues to be written throughout the history of our Church. For this reason, in his homily of November 4, 1979, he said: “Man is not worth what he has, but for what he is”. The weeping and the clamor of the suffering of the poor people who approached him day by day, left him increasingly convinced of the presence of Christ in the midst of that People.

Walking through garbage dumps, peripheries, rural areas; it made him reflect on how bad that society was, all the injustices and violations of human rights that were being carried out; That is why he raised his voice again and said: “It is not God’s will that some have everything and others have nothing” (Homily, September 10, 1978).

This call to share is a call moved by love; for he knew that the people who had and who were believers, had to understand the demand of the Gospel, had to comply with the passage that says: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, naked and you dressed me, sick and you healed me, prisoner and you visited me; because when you did it with one of my little ones, you did it for me “(Mt 25, 35-40). His call was to conversion and to the revolution of love, he wanted everyone to be saved, because they were all part of that Church. His words resound in my mind in the homily of February 25, 1979: “The Church is nothing more than a sign of the love of God in the world.”

As a pastor, he fervently wished in his heart that everyone would find God in their lives. He wanted to bring all, the rich and the poor, a light of hope; for in his meditations he well knew the fate of those who do not accept the Gospel; hence his clear message to all: “Jesus is the source of hope. Everything that I preach is supported in Jesus” (Homily, August 28, 1977).

However, when in spite of so much call of love, especially those who could make a difference, do not want to listen; he goes ahead with his call, especially when he saw all that suffering crowd, he says: “We want to be the voice of those who have no voice, to shout against so much outrage against human rights” (homily August 28, 1977).

Even knowing the consequences that all this prophetism had with himself, he never ceased to give hope to his People, he became his own voice, even, against some priests and some brothers in the episcopate; against subversive and military forces; against the affluent and oppressive classes; against those governments that, instead of helping, made the situation worse.

He encouraged his suffering people by saying: “Let us be patient, endure, and eternal life will come” (homily, September 3, 1978). But when you no longer want to understand the reasons, when the conscience is numbed by so much death, when suffering seems normal; the Gospel invites us not to remain silent.

The Christian message challenges us to struggle to free ourselves from everything that separates us from God, to which we raise once again the voice and in the name of Christ, we pray, we call, we demand that we respect the dignity of the person. That is why Monsignor Romero, at his last Sunday Mass, once again raised his voice and said to the military and government forces: “I beg you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression!” (Homily March 23, 1980)

The next day, while offering the offertory in the Holy Mass of the Divine Providence chapel, a frank shooter shot him in the heart and killed him. He united his blood to the Precious blood of the Lamb for being faithful to the Gospel.
3. The Mission: In the words of Cardinal Rosa Chávez, in an interview we did with ABBA Television, she told us that “CELAM, in its meeting in Medellin, was the first conference of Bishops in the world, who dared to study and understand the contributions of the Second Vatican Council. It is from the conference in Medellin, Colombia, the famous conclusion that marks a new evangelizing stage in the history of the Latin American Church: “Your Option for the Poor” arises.

Monsignor Romero had this love for the poor since he was a child. However, that love grew up more and more as he also developed as a human being. But his voice was heard much more, when as an archbishop denounced all the human rights violations that the poor suffered.

This was his mission, to do this he was called; to be a witness of the truth, to bring comfort to the afflicted, freedom to the captives, to fight for peace and justice, to defend the defenseless, to carry out the revolution of love. Yes, he followed his Master’s footsteps; he is carrying out, in a faithful way, the true mission of the Church.

He is proclaiming the message of faith, love and hope, to all those who feel lonely and confused; he is proclaiming a time of Grace and encounter with the Risen Lord. But the mission of San Oscar Romero really begins with the sacrifice of his life, because it is now when the Universal Church has begun to understand the depth of his message; the Church is beginning to study and to value his Legacy and vision of the Kingdom of God in every local reality of the world; the Church is opening up to proclaim a complete Gospel and not mutilated by institutionalist, governmental, individualist, capitalist or hierarchical interests.

The baptized convince us more and more, in light of this Romerian Christological Vision, that we are the hope, the ferment and the living force of the faith that humanity needs to reach eternal life together.

This is really the mission of Romerian Christology, and every baptized person is inheritor of it, since it is the presence of Jesus Christ among all of us. Where there is suffering, pain, misery, hunger, marginalization, injustice, violation of human rights, persecution, poor people, etc ., there must be a Romerian Christian.

Through the intercession of Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero we can acquire the Grace we need, in order to be a faithful disciple of Christ in the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, AMEN.

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