Love: Oscar Romero

I turn to Oscar Romero as another witness to love because the more I have read him, the more I see love at the center of his life and ministry.  Indeed, one author described him as the voice of love in a time and place where love’s voice was sorely diminished by hatred and violence.[1] Romero had the strength to love we saw last week in the post about Martin Luther King Jr.  It was a strength we can see in a number of ways.

First, Romero’s love was a sign of his love for God.  Unlike the revolutionaries who stood outside the system in an attempt to overthrow it, he was a subversive who located himself “at the edge of the inside” (Richard Rohr’s term for resistance) of the political and ecclesial systems which colluded to harm people.  Romero sought to reform the society and church because he loved it, not because he was done with it.  True reform always arises from love.

Second, Romero’s love was an advocacy for those who were unloved by the state and church.  It was a love which stood in solidarity with the poor and oppressed—a reflection of the Bible’s call to do so.  In this sense, Romero was a good shepherd to the sheep and a genuine prophet to the imperialists.  He was the mystic/prophet that Matthew Fox sees as a true Christian.

Third, Romero’s love was a sign of hope to those who were tempted to give into hopelessness.  He saw his preaching as a primary means for doing this, writing that “You all know what language I use for preaching. It is a language that wants to plant seeds of hope; yes, it denounces earthly injustices, abuses of power, but not with hatred, rather with love, calling for conversion.” [2]  Love and hope were never separated.

Finally, Romero’s love was sacrificial.  He was assassinated for loving, but he did not live with a martyr’s mentality, but only that of a messenger—the Spirit that was upon Jesus to announce a radical inbreaking of the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:18-19) was upon him.  The risks he took were part of his responsibility.  He lived and worked as a servant, not a victim.

In these ways, and more, Oscar Romero bore witness to love as the evidence of courage and the inspiration for change.  

[1] James  Brockman, ‘Romero: A Life’ (Orbis Books, 2005).

[2] Irene Hodgson, translator, ’Through the Year With Oscar Romero,’ (St Anthony Messenger Press, 2005) , 20.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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