In the late 1970's there was a holy man named as archbishop of San Salvador in the nation of El Salvador. It was a country rocked by class warfare, injustice, persecutions, and all sort of evil. This archbishop's name was Oscar Romero. He loved the Lord, and the Scriptures and the Church. But he was out of touch with his people, at least until he attended the funeral of one of his priests and two others who were gunned down for working for the poor. While there, his eyes were opened and he saw clearly that the message of the gospel needed to not only be preached but also to be lived. There was such a makeover in him that he became a thorn in the side of the government and other powers in that nation. He spoke out regarding injustice, he stood with the poor and marginalized, he witnessed to gospel values, and he became loved and hated, respected and feared. There is a movie entitled "Romero" starring Raul Julia that details this transformation. See if you can rent it.
I mention him today because thirty-two years ago on this date, in 1980, while celebrating Mass, at the end of his homily, he was gunned down and died minutes later. He gave the ultimate witness, and that was only possible because he welcomed an extreme home makeover in his life of Faith.
There is a local tie to the event. Our second bishop, the late Bishop William G. Connare who ordained me, was chosen as part of the U.S. Bishops' delegation to Romero's funeral. He told of the terror they experienced when even the funeral was marked by gunfire into the crowds, and the bishops scurrying for cover. It was frightening. The world in which we live is still frightening, is still caught up in evil and darkness, is still promoting hatred and injustice among peoples. We need those Gospel values taught, and, even more importantly, lived.
Archbishop Oscar Romero, pray for us!