Archbishop Oscar Romero was murdered at the altar in a hospital chapel 25 years ago. He wrote: “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. The violence we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred. It is the violence of love, of brotherhood, the violence that wills to beat weapons into sickles for work.” -Oscar A. Romero, The Violence of Love
In this week with the joyous celebration of Palm Sunday ahead, we celebrate our freedom to celebrate a joyful solemnity. But Lord, we think of those who hear of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and then hear about the wonders of the resurrection at Easter, and never hear the story of Jesus’s passion: his violent death by torture on a cross, his descent into Hades and that he did it all for “me”.
This week we pray:
- For those who mourn following the crash of a “Germanwings” plane in the Alps, enroute from Germany to France, killing all 150 people aboard; for those who deal with the aftermath and trauma, and for those for whom bitter memories are revived
- For the people of Tulsa, Oklahoma, US, following a tornado, the violence of the weather
- For the people of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, in the violence of dispute, the rumor of war
- For the people of Tikrit, Iraq, a battleground in the violence of war
- For the people of Norfolk Island, external state of Australia, where they may “lose their parliament and gain Australian taxes” in the violence of politics
- For those still facing the violence of deadly disease in the ebola hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone
- For all victims of sexual violence, as the first arrest takes place following the rape of an elderly nun in West Bengal, India
- For all whose work endangers life, in the violence of earning a living, as 14 workers in Vietnam have been killed by collapsing scaffolding
- For those trafficked, in the violence of slavery
We have changed our world, so unintentionally, doing violence to the climate, to the land, to the seas. We pray for the people of Chile, seeing wildfires burning out of control in 3 national parks at the same time as there is unprecedented flooding in the Atacama desert. Too often this century, in too many countries, on too many continents, we have heard of uncontrolled wild fires and unprecedented flooding, and how these cause untold violence in the cumulative aftermath.
Teach us Lord, in the holy week ahead, to understand the violence of love.
“If we are worth anything, it is not because we have more money or more talent, or more human qualities. Insofar as we are worth anything, it is because we are grafted onto Christ’s life, his cross and resurrection. That is a person’s measure.” Oscar Romero.