God needs the people themselves to save the world . . . The world of the poor teaches us that liberation will arrive only when the poor are not simply on the receiving end of hand-outs from governments or from the churches, but when they themselves are the masters and protagonists of their own struggle for liberation.
Today marks 31 years since Monsignor Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador and voice for the poor of El Salvador, was assassinated by a paramilitary death squad while celebrating Mass. It’s hard to overstate the impact that Oscar Romero — as an activist, a Christian, a writer, a martyr — has had on my spirituality, politics and worldview.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘solidarity,’ a word that we threw around a lot in college. We’d read the story of Dorothy Stang or the writings of Jon Sobrino and dream impossibly challenging and beautiful futures for ourselves. A few years later, I can’t really imagine what solidarity as we previously imagined it might look like in my life in Battambang. I’ve taken to striving for ‘accompaniment’ of the poor, rather than ‘solidarity.’ (My college self would be disappointed; I’ve gone soft.)
And then, I remember Romero. His life is a testament to the fact that radical conversion to the poor happens. And when it happens, it changes absolutely everything:
On this point there is no possible neutrality. We either serve the life of Salvadorans or we are accomplices in their death….We either believe in a God of life or we serve the idols of death.
I can’t add anything to that, so I’ll just ask that you let these words frame today for you, wherever you may be.