The Lent Madness folks have dubbed her the “Cinderella of 2013” and that held true through yesterday’s match-up: Frances Perkins took out Civil Rights martyr Jonathan Myrick Daniels by a quite respectable majority (or is it plurality? I can never remember which is which — any way, she won). Perkins will advance to take on whoever wins today’s Elate Eight match-up, either Florence Li-Tim Oi or Archbishop Oscar Romero. Just think, after tomorrow we’ll be halfway through the Elate Eight round. Lent has truly flown by this year.
The Rev’d Florence Li-Tim Oi surrounded by her congregants at the Morrison Chapel in Macau, Autumn, 1945
“Aspire not to have more but to BE more,” Oscar Romero
(Artwork by Caritas, Australia)
Once again the choice is between two people for whom I voted in both of the previous rounds. Yes, Loving Spoonful, I did “ever have to make up my mind” and have to again today as well. And, as indebted as I am to Florence Li-Tim Oi (and now that I’ve finally learned how to spell her name without checking back to the LM site to remember where to put the hyphen) — it is to her that I’m bidding so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye. (Speaking of which, if you’ll indulge me yet another ADD sidetrack — I forgot to mention in yesterday’s write up of Frances P. that we have her to thank for all that wonderful, ear-wormy music about hills being alive, does being deers, and Edelweiss being small and white– she played prominently in getting the Von Trapp family safely to the US in the late 1930’s).
Where was I? Right — bidding farewell to Florence. I am grateful that she was included in LM as a reminder that for every gain any group of people has made (in this case ordained women) inevitably someone has come before who struggled and put themselves at personal risk in one form or another to make it happen.
But for me the giant of today’s match-up is Archbishop Oscar Romero who laid down his life for the cause of justice for the poor and marginalized in El Salvador — with echoes of what he did still being felt around the world today. I can’t help but wonder if Pope Francis’ heart for the poor might have been inspired in part by the life, teachings, and death of Romero.
The story of Archbishop Romero, particularly that of his assassination should give us as citizens of the US pause, especially as it comes (coincidentally) during the week of the 10th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. There is no proof that the US was in any way directly involved with his death, but during the late 70’s and 80’s we certainly trained, funded, and armed the right wing death squads against whom Romero preached. This support actually escalated after his assassination. The 80’s in Central America are not a time we as Americans can look at without anything but horror and shame. As the news media are covering the 10th anniversary of our invasion of Iraq (remember “Shock and awe”…?) I heard one commentator yesterday morning observe in words to the effect of “Our own house is severely broken. Shouldn’t we fix it before we go projecting our power into the wider world?” Amen to that. And praise God for the witness of Archbishop Oscar Romero and others like him, for I am convinced that in the end theirs shall be the strongest voices. the following is a prayer written by Archbishop Romero:
It helps, now and then, to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own
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