Christ Has Entrusted Us With a Prophetic Mission: Blessed Oscar Romero’s Homily For 15th Sunday OT

Pope Francis cartoon2

Blessed Msgr. Oscar Romero’s Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 15, 1979)

Blessed Oscar Romero has challenging words for us today. The servicioskoinonia.org website presents his weekly homilies and teachings as well as other prominent teachings from Latin America.  I believe that it is good to “read the world” and the word, and theology, from another perspective and heartily recommend this website that you can automatically translate into English or other languages. Bear in mind that the English translation may not be very good but it gives a general idea. In the Homily below I have worked with a selected portion of the English translation from the Spanish to make it clearer.

This very week Pope Francis is in Paraguay where he speaks and truly listens to the concerns of the people, especially the youth, women, and those poor people who are threatened with the loss of their land in the name of development, a problem throughout Latin America and one we experienced when we were in Colombia as well.

Here Blessed Msgr. Romero addresses the apostolic mission of all of God’s people.  Like Pope Francis, he speaks of solidarity and fraternity/ sisterhood in Christian community and of the communal nature of preaching and receiving the Gospel. He speaks of the charge in Mark 6: 7-13 to go forth in poverty, with a spirit of poverty, and what that means. An implication is that selfishness greed, and the love of money enough to hoard it and not share it fully with those in most need world-wide is an “unclean spirit” that true evangelism will cast out. He speaks of the bondage of wealth and refers to Pope Paul VI who, like Francis, also addressed wealth and greed.   As the Church and especially Latin America also celebrates the Feast Day of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, (this year July 16th) on this Fifteenth Sunday Romero also describes Mary as the apostle and evangelist par excellence, the model of Apostolic Mission,  as she lifts up the poor in her song, the Magnificat.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP-USA-East

(Excerpted and translated from the servicioskoinonia.org/Romero website- any errors in language understanding would be my own.)

Readings of the day: Amos 7:12-15; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13

FROM THE HOMILY OF  BLESSED MSGR. OSCAR ROMERO

CHRIST Entrusted Us with a Prophetic Mission

  1. The conditions of the true prophet
  2. False Prophets
  3. What is our prophetic message?
  4. THE TERMS OF TRUE PROPHET
  5. a) Chosen by Christ

What are the conditions of authentic prophecy? We have only to return to reviewing today’s Gospel where Christ presents the figure of the apostle sent as a prophet. All of us are by baptism continuation of this messenger of God in the world.

– Vocation – Mission – authorization

Christ says in the Gospel today: “Giving them power over unclean spirits, he called them and sent them two by two.” This is primary. A sense of authorization from Christ. Last Sunday we mentioned that every prophet has to have a vocation, an anointing, a mission. Such appears today when it comes to the New Testament prophets. He called them -” it was not you that have chosen me; I have chosen you”. The prophet is chosen by God’s initiative and sent. Only one who is sent can preach.  You can only say “The Lord sends this word”-the Lord is saying, “Go and tell this people”. And the authorization here depends the category of prophetic mission and gives them authority over unclean spirits.

– Superiority of the Apostle (“representative” of Christ) on the Old Testament prophet

It turns out that the prophets of the Old Testament received the mission, but the apostles received from Christ a mission, an authorization that identifies with being sent. They are “representatives” of Christ: “He who despises you, despises me, and he who attends to you serves me.” There is a more intimate authorization between us, people of God, with Christ, than between the Old Testament prophet and God. They were messengers, we as God’s people are not just messengers, but as Christ is embedded in the life of the people of God and it is Christ who speaks.

  1. b) Community SenseWhat other condition indicates the Gospel today? A sense of community. We are sent forth in twos and told to stay in a family house in the village. And then preach in the village.If the people agree, peace will come to this town, but if the people reject them, let them go. These people, the people must be the accomplice or faith will not be received there. “Then” he says, “Shake the dust off your sandals to prove their guilt.” The people who rejected the prophet who was sent, Christ, who declined to accept the message as a community to form a partnership, a fraternity rather than the coexistence of wolves against wolves, people who are afraid of each other. But the community that accepts the message of Christian brotherhood, is blessed. If they decline, the sign of shaking sandals is a reproof that God “evicts” that society.

Save us, Lord that it may not be said of our country, our community, what Christ said crying from Mount Gethsemane in Jerusalem: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets, how many times I wanted to gather you as a hen gathers her chicks and you have not wanted it ! Save us, Lord from such a curse! There is still time to accept not only as individuals but as Salvadoran fraternity the message Christ is sending us through the Christian people, a prophetic people. There are so many holy people in our town! And they pray a lot!  Pray, brethren, that the Lord make effective the words of their prophets and that they be heard.

  1. c) Spirit of poverty

Another condition of the true prophet is the beautiful description that Christ makes when giving such concrete and simple guidelines.

– Figure of a pilgrim

He instructed them to take a walking stick and nothing else. No food, no sack, no money in their belts; to wear sandals but not a second tunic. That is, with Eastern biblical comparisons, is telling them live the evangelical spirit of poverty. I would like to highlight this morning, especially when there is so much greed and material selfishness, men fight over these things. Christ says to them, introduce yourself with a spirit of poverty.

– The freedom that is born of the spirit of poverty

Because, brothers, no one is as free as those not subjugated to the god of money, and no one is as enslaved as to idolatrous money. Therefore, Christ wants to break the yoke of this idolatry and says do not worry, trust in Providence that gives bread, will dress you, will meet your needs. Go to preach the kingdom of God, not to make money; this is a bad deal.

– The prophet Amos, who appears in the first reading, felt so free while a false prophet, more interested in the money that the kingdom of God, says, “Go eat your bread there in your land, do not come to prophesy here, do not hinder me. This is the national shrine. “And the prophet Amos replied with a serenity that can only come from poverty: “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, I have no profession called prophet; I’m just a shepherd, a sower of figs, I am a rare desert man. God took me from my flock and told me: go to prophesy to my people Israel!  I do not come here for business or for eating bread, I come because God has commanded me; I have enough with my cows and my figs. No need to expose myself to these humiliations…. “. This is the freedom of the truly great who are poor and poor in evangelical spirit.

– When Paul VI spoke of the renewal of the Church, he said only two virtues were necessary for our time: charity and the spirit of poverty. And today analyzing why should the Church and Christians to live the spirit of poverty, says this: “We think the inner liberation produced by the spirit of evangelical poverty …” Look how beautiful !…. It is not enough not to have things. There are poor people who are not released internally, looking with greed, with hates having resentments. All this is not liberation from poverty, not enough to be poor not having property, but the real poor have also broken interior chains.

Pope Paul VI says, “Because with that inner freedom we feel more sensitive, more appropriate to understand human phenomena related to economic factors.” Nobody is so understanding of the need for money as having poor in spirit, for he knows that money itself is useful, you cannot do without it but as a means, not an end; as a servant of man, not the man to serve money. …. You know, poverty with evangelical spirit is better than the rich, using the money with economic sense knows better than the one whose life is enslaved to the god money.

Also….wealth is necessary for the progress of peoples, we will not deny; but progress like ours, subject to the exploitation of so many who never enjoy the progress of our society … is not evangelical poverty. What good are beautiful highways and airport, beautiful buildings of large apartments if they are simply kneaded with the blood of the poor?  Which is truly free within, even promoting the roads and buildings, you know give you the true sense. The real sense that the Pope called a just and severe sense. Severo (severe or strict), this is the missing word: A wealth in the true sense of severity is at the service of the common good. This is what the Lord wants with the Spirit of Poverty: serve others with all the money you have, in a spirit of self- discipline.

Another advantage of poverty, “Give to the destitute the most solicitous and generous interest.” …. (This) is no longer a time paternalism, it is a time of fraternity, what my brother feels that interests me. The interest of the poor, the peasants, who do not have”.

“And finally the Pope says this spirit of poverty qualifies us to wish that economic goods are not sources of strife, selfishness, pride among men, but they are guided by way of justice and equity, common good and, therefore, abundantly distributed.” Without this spirit that Christ recommended to the apostles, our society will never change….” The spirit of poverty is a Christian virtue, which we all need to become.

….And I am glad, brothers, that our church is persecuted precisely for its preferential option for the poor, to try to incarnate in the interest of the poor and say to all the people, rulers, rich and powerful: if they do not prioritize the poor, if you are not interested in the poverty of our people as your own family, you cannot save society ….”

“….so the Church opts for the poor “… the testimony of a poor Church can evangelize the rich who have their heart attached to wealth making them from this bondage and egoism “(No. 1156). How wise is the Lord Jesus Christ to tell the apostles that they will evangelize with the figure of a poor pilgrim! And the Church of today must become this mandate of Christ. Now is not a time of great outfits, large useless buildings…. All this, perhaps, once had its function ….but now most of all, the Church wants to present poorest of the poor and poorest of the rich to evangelize poor and rich …

And since in our filial affection for the Virgin he has dedicated this reflection I want to mention as Puebla’s also mentioned, citing precisely the Pope, when in his homily the sanctuary of the Virgin of Zapopan, recalled that “Of Maria, who in her song, Magnificat, proclaims that God’s salvation has to do with justice for the poor, also part of the authentic commitment to other men, our brothers, especially the poor and needy and the necessary transformation of society “. (1144). They are the exact words of Puebla and the Pope to see that devotion to the Virgin is not alienating. If tomorrow, the day of the Virgen del Carmen, the crowds are all dressed up, do not forget that Mary is above all a prophetic messenger of Christ and in her song of the Magnificat remembered the poor, the hungry and God also said the proud, the rich of the world are sent away empty if not converted to poverty of God….”

There is much more and the reader may wish to check www.servicioskoinonia.org/romero/homilias/B/790715.htm for the complete teaching.

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