Easter is a shout of victory
"Easter is a shout of victory! No one can extinguish that life that Christ resurrected. Not even death and hatred against Him and against His Church will be able to overcome it. He is the victor! Just as He will flourish in an Easter of unending resurrection, so it is necessary to also accompany Him in Lent, in a Holy Week that is cross, sacrifice, martyrdom... Happy are those who do not become offended by their cross!"
These are the words of Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, on March 23, 1980. It was the fifth Sunday of Lent. This was to be his last Sunday homily where he appealed to the soldiers to refuse to shoot fellow countrymen.
Men of higher rank in the Church but just tiny dots in the eyes of history told him to stop. He didn't. Like Christ his master he courageously went to meet his martyrdom.
Romero spent his last day - March 24 - with his priests. He returned home in the evening where he had planned to celebrate Mass at the hospital chapel. Oscar Romero delivered his last homily.
"One must not love oneself so much, as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life that history demands of us, and those that fend off danger will lose their lives."
Having completed the Liturgy of the Word, he had just taken the bread in his hands to commence the Liturgy of the Eucharist when a shot was fired by a hired gunman. Romero fell to the floor behind the altar, dying or already dead.
The fatal shot had found its target. It was not to be the end of Romero as the Crucifixion was not to be the end of Christ.
In one of his homilies, Romero had said: "I do not believe in death without resurrection.... If they kill me, I will be resurrected in the Salvadoran people."
Romero lived the experience of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ in a dramatic way that led to martyrdom. We are not necessarily asked to meet the same end, but we are honoured to prolong in our experiences the suffering of Christ so that we share with Him the triumph of His Resurrection.
Some of us are asked to live all this through what the media would consider to be uneventful lives, that is lives away from the headlines. The majority of us live like that. These lives are just as important. Whenever we try to intertwine the anxieties and hopes that we experience with the anxieties and hopes witnessed in the life of Christ on earth we would be living very important lives as we would be giving witness to the beauty that is God Incarnate.
Same are asked to live this wonderful reality in the limelight. It does not matter whether this is the tough limelight of politics or what appears to be the sweeter limelight of entertainment or the arduous one of trade unionism or of a dedicated profession or public office. Each to his or her own. The place or the circumstance does not really matter. What matters is the kernel of love and the spark of hope that one tries to instil in the people and environment where one serves.
The celebrations of the Passion and Resurrection, in these circumstances, are not a mere commemoration, as many mistakenly believe, of past events. These celebrations make present even though in a symbolic/sacramental mode these events. These celebrations should then mould the life we live today as well as fashion an action programme for the flowering of the new humanity brought by Him who bore our sins for our justification.