As I continue my reading of Oscar Romero’s The Violence of Love during Lent, I find myself both challenged and encouraged. Romero didn’t seek the position in which he was placed—it was thrust upon him. Still, he played very well the role of what the New Testament calls martus: “witness” or “martyr.”
In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin identifies two marks of the church: “Wherever we see the Word of God sincerely preached and heard, wherever we see the sacraments administered according to the institution of Christ, there we cannot have any doubt that the Church of God has some existence.” (4.1.9, Henry Beveridge’s translation)
I think Oscar Romero has something to add to that: “A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed—what gospel is that?” (p. 57)
What gospel is that? What good news is that? As he goes on, he demonstrates the opposite of the gospel. “Very nice, pious considerations that don’t bother anyone, that’s the way many would like preaching to be. Those preachers who avoid every thorny matter so as not to be harassed, so as not to have conflicts and difficulties, do not light up the world they live in.”
Let’s light it up!
(Copyright 2007 by Plough Publishing House. Used with permission.)