No one who has left house, brothers, sisters……. for the sake of the Gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over……. not without persecutions…. Mark 10:17-30
Today in Rome Pope Paul V1 and the Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero are to be made saints by Pope Francis.
One, a man who lead the Church for 15 years as Pope and saw through the completion and many implementations of the Second Vatican Council and the other a martyr for the faith during great political upheaval and religious persecution in El Salvador.
‘Human’ (track 3) from ‘Serenity’ is the song I have chosen for you to listen to in light of these men.
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May they continue to inspire us
Romero who was a political conservative became increasingly outraged by the violence, poverty and injustice inflicted upon his people including priests and catechists. He discovered his voice and refused to be silenced in condemning the murder and torture he witnessed. From his cathedral pulpit Archbishop Romero became the voice of the voiceless poor. On March 24, 1980, he was assassinated while celebrating Mass in the Divine Providence hospital chapel.
It was Pope Paul VI, who interestingly given their joint canonization today, appointed Oscar Romero as Archbishop.
The Sunday Gospel today ends with Jesus talking about those who leave everything to follow him being repaid a hundred times over but that they will not be without persecutions.
These humble men of the Gospel enjoying now the promise of eternal life received abundant blessings in their ministry and have left a profound legacy upon the Church of our day. Paul VI sought to reform the Church, improve the relations with other Christian communities and other faiths, and open a dialogue with the world. Archbishop Romero’s teachings and legacy provide the nation of El Salvador and the world at large with a strong moral compass.
It is clear with Romero’s story that he suffered strong opposition which ultimately lead to his death but Paul V1 too endured attacks regarding his character and strong opposition to his reforms and teachings which continue to this day.
I remember well the funeral of Pope Paul. I was a first-year seminarian at Mount St Mary’s, Greenmeadows in 1978. During his pontificate he dispensed with much of the pomp and ceremony associated with the papacy and his coffin was a simple wooden one laid on the ground. It was an incredible witness to poverty and humility, which is at the heart of our Gospel story today. ‘Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, then come, follow me.’ Our present Holy Father, Pope Francis, continues to call us to this spirit of detachment.
The story of Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom occurred while I was a third-year seminarian and has left a lasting impression on me too.
Saints are flesh and blood men and women. They have their challenges and weaknesses like all of us to work through, accept and overcome. These challenges are not always easy to deal with as we have seen and experienced. I am sure both Pope Paul and Oscar Romero grappled with and prayed over the many difficult decisions and choices they eventually made. They knew those decisions would not always be popular. Our Church acknowledges today their heroic virtue. The daily response to God’s grace available to them is available to us.
Lord Jesus, help us to hear your voice in today’s Gospel speaking to the context of our lives. Help us realise the things we need to let go of and the things we need to face and stand up for in order to be truly happy and follow you?
Pope St Paul V1 and St Oscar Romero pray for us.