Mons. Oscar Romero’s Homily

Below is Mons. Oscar Romero’s homily that he gave on March 16, 1980. Excerpts taken from The Violence of Love, pages 201-204.

March 16, 1980

At this time, when land in El Salvador is the object of conflict, let us not forget that the land is closely tied to God’s blessings and promises…There is a theological meaning in the bond between reconciliation and the land. I want to emphasize this idea because it seems to me very appropriate….The land contains much that is of God. That is why it groans when the unjust monopolize it and leave no land for others. Land reform is a theological necessity. A country’s land cannot stay in a few hands. It must be given to all, and all must share in God’s blessings on the land.

Each country has its own promised land in the territory that geography has alloted it. We must always bear in mind and never forget this theological reality: the land is a sign of justice and reconciliation. There will be no true reconciliation between our people and God as long as there is no just distribution, as long as the goods of ther earth in El Salvador are not for the benefit and happiness of all Salvadorans.

God in Christ dwells near at hand to us. Christ has given us a guideline: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat.” Where someone is hungry, there is Christ near at hand. “I was thirsty and you gave me to drink.” When someone comes to your house to ask for water, it is Christ, if you look with faith. In the sick person longing for a visit Christ tells you, “I was sick and you came to visit me.” Or in prison.

How many today are ashamed to testify for the innocent! What terror has been sown among our people that friends betray friends whom they see in trouble! If we could see that Christ is the needy one, the torture victim, the prisoner, the murder victim, and in each human figure so shamefully thrown by our roadsides could see Christ himself cast aside, we would pick him up like a medal of gold to be kissed lovingly. We would never be ashamed of him. How far are people today-especially those who torture and kill and value their investments more than human beings-from realizing that all the earth’s millions are good for nothing, are worthless, compared to a human being. The person is Christ, and in the person viewed and treated with faith we look on Christ the Lord.

To try to reveal Christ is our great pastoral task. If I speak of earthly matters or political questions, it is to guide our reflection towards Christ. I would like you to understand me well so as not to have a wrong idea of these Masses. Far from being political gatherings, they mean to draw the people toward Christ, toward God. Thus they are understood in many testimonials I receive. It gives me great comfort to know that people come to church on Sunday to look for Christ. Even in the criminal realities of our land Christ is present, rejecting all that crime. That is why we must speak of it here.

I feel more pity than anger when they insult me and slander me. I feel pity for those poor blind people who can’t see beyond the person. Let them know that I hold no animosity, no grudge. Those annonymous letters that come don’t offend me with all their raging, nor what is said through other means or lived out in the heart. It’s not a pity of superiority, but a pity of thankfulness to God and of prayer to God:
Lord, open their eyes.
Lord, let them be converted.
Lord, instead of the bitterness of hate
that they lived in their hearts,
let them live the joy of reconciliation with you.

This is the fundamental thought of my preaching: Nothing is so important to me as human life. Taking life is something so serious, so grave-more than the violation of any other human right-because it is the life of God’s children, and because such bloodshed only negates love, awakens new hatreds,
makes reconciliation and peace impossible.

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