The Violence of Love

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On Sunday 14th.Oct. Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador will be canonized. He was murdered because of the stand he took for Truth and Justice. Romero was a fierce unwavering voice for the voiceless and a thorn in the side of the ruling establishment. The truth of that voice was to prove unbearable for that same establishment to hear and so Oscar Romero was killed in a hail of bullets, on the 24th March 1980 as he raised the host of consecration among those same poor.

What is that truth? Is it to be just talked about or is it to be lived? Romero’s life was rooted in the true meaning of the word of God as lived by Jesus Christ…’come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened…’For him, the ‘Light of Christ’ was not some harmless flicker but a great flame to be kept burning against all the odds – a great dispelling of the darkness.

So as he is raised to sainthood I ask myself some questions and I invite you to do likewise: What does the voice of truth say to me here in the Ireland (or wherever we are)?  Who do I speak up for? Who do I give voice to? What consensus of privilege do I break? Have I ever been truly poor? Do I really know what it is like to be poor and marginalized and to always have less than the rest? How can I imagine the cold of living in doorways in the bitter winter nights, the searing pain of addiction, the horror of domestic violence or the despair of homelessness? Have I ever really felt outraged that the consensus of my society allows such awfulness to continue and what have I ever done about it?

These are tough questions that I cannot turn away from.Pope Francis recognized Romero as a martyr murdered at the altar by those who had a hatred for truth. Romero’s faith was imbued with a charity that would not be silenced in the face of the injustice which relentlessly and cruelly slaughtered the poor and their defenders.

Oscar Romero said: “We have never preached violence, except the violence of love, which left Christ nailed to a cross, the violence that we must each do to ourselves to overcome our selfishness and such cruel inequalities among us “In this increasingly polarised world which is ever marked by such ‘cruel inequalities,’ the ‘Light of Christ’ shines out from the life and death of Oscar Romero. That light which says to all of us; Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15: 12 – 13)

Fr.Michael Reddan SVD

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