This week's student blog post comes to us from Julie Marmion. Julie is a student at Biola University, studying Spanish and linguistics. Here, she reflects on the recent commemoration of the legacy and life of Archbishop Oscar Romero from El Salvador, who was assassinated in 1980 while giving mass.
Two days ago was the celebration feast day of Monseñor Óscar Romero. Perhaps his legacy is unfamiliar to you, but as the Catholic Church prepares for his canonization, I encourage you to carefully consider his life as an example for living out Jesus’ mission for justice. Romero was the archbishop of El Salvador during the late 1970s in the midst of great governmental violence, yet despite the impending peril, he found strength to speak out against the violence, torture, poverty, and disregard for human dignity. Although he was assassinated, his message planted a seed of hope among the people of Latin America.
I cannot begin to understand the situation of the oppressed, but my experiences here in Latin America have put a face to the issues and injustices about which I have learned. Although I had previously learned about the fight of the Sandinistas against Somoza in Nicaragua, living and conversing with a family who had experienced the revolution gave me a personal connection to the situation. It wasn’t just another group of citizens fighting for liberty; it was Chilo, Isella, and Eric. It was the beautiful face staring back at me as we enjoyed our Sunday morning breakfast of Nacatamales.
Similarly, having listened to the life story of Elmer, a speaker who lived in the same framework as Romero, I began to recognize the devastating effects of poverty on the human beings it infects. These interactions do not permit me to deny the reality of such injustices nor the necessity and power of Romero's courageous opposition to them. In resisting the patterns of brutality and destitution, Elmer suggests we be intentional in forming relationships with the marginalized and in standing with them in solidarity, which Romero declares to be the mission of the church.
In the documentary “Romero”, Rutilio Grande, an influential priest and advocate for human rights, professed, “How can I love God who I don’t see if I don’t love my neighbour who I do see?”
This causes me to reflect on my attitude with respect to the oppressed and my responsibility as a Christian. Sometimes we get caught up with other aspects of faith that we ignore Jesus’ vision for society—a Kingdom characterized by love and justice. This vision still lacks completion. Thus, we as Christians ought to offer ourselves as instruments in God’s triumph over injustice as we follow the example of Jesus and those such as Óscar Romero who shared his vision.