We know that every effort to better society, especially when injustice and sin are so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, ...that God wants, ...that God demands of us. - Archbishop Oscar Romero (Archbishop of El Salvador & martyr)
(Gospel text: JN 11:45-56)
Many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.
But some of them went to the Pharisees
and told them what Jesus had done.
So the chief priests and the Pharisees
convened the Sanhedrin and said,
“What are we going to do?
This man is performing many signs.
If we leave him alone, all will believe in him,
and the Romans will come
and take away both our land and our nation.”
But one of them, Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year, said to them,
“You know nothing,
nor do you consider that it is better for you
that one man should die instead of the people,
so that the whole nation may not perish.”
He did not say this on his own,
but since he was high priest for that year,
he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
and not only for the nation,
but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
So from that day on they planned to kill him.
So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews,
but he left for the region near the desert,
to a town called Ephraim,
and there he remained with his disciples.
Now the Passover of the Jews was near,
and many went up from the country to Jerusalem
before Passover to purify themselves.
They looked for Jesus and said to one another
as they were in the temple area, “What do you think?
That he will not come to the feast?”
On this day in 1980 Archbishop Oscar Romero gave his last and most famous speech appealing to the Salvadoran army. He begged them to stop killing civilian Salvadoran men, women and children. The next day he was assassinated while saying Mass at the Divina Provedencia Chapel in San Salvador, a quiet chapel near his simple home. Archbishop Romero received death threats throughout his time as Archbishop in response to his homilies which were shared over the radio in El Salvador during their bloody civil war. To the Salvadoran people, Archbishop Romero was a prophet, a martyr and will someday be a saint.
Jesus’ prophetic life and signs also brought threats and, in the end, execution by those who feared his power and message. The threats on Jesus’ own life were such that he ‘no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert.’ Jesus withdrew from the public but not from his call. He steadfastly continued on his mission, even knowing that it would end in sacrificing his own life.
Speaking out against injustices, coming to the aid of our friends and family when they need us, acting for social change are all difficult and sometimes have high costs.
The prophecies that can change “the dead” into the living is not just words; it is the ultimate prophecy of a self-sacrificing for love demonstrated by our actions each day that can “make the blind see and make the lame walk”. We each are called to do this in small ways putting ourselves last when serving our families, our neighbors, and our friends.
Will you be a prophet of life in a culture of death? If so, you must take up the daily cross (Lk 9:23) and die to self (Gal 2:19-20). Then not only will you rise; many of the dead will also rise with you.