Easter Message from the Bishop of Limerick
Added on 03/04/2010
Easter Message from the Rt Revd Trevor Williams, Bishop of Limerick and KillaloeThe 24th March was the 30th Anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s murder in El Salvador. He was murdered because he challenged the violence and oppression of those in positions of political power. He was slain by a goverment-sanctioned bullet to the chest as he said Mass in the humble monastery where he lived.
He was a quiet, mild-mannered person – not at all the type of personality you would expect goverments to fear. But he was prepared to speak the truth, and for that he died. When he took office in 1977, violence and murder were claiming the lives of 3000 people every month in El Salvador. Most of the clergy remained quiet, said nothing for fear of their lives. After all what could they do about such brutality?
Oscar Romero left his powerful friends and his position of privilege, and became a ‘bishop of the people’. He visited the poorest of the poor and heard their stories. And when he heard of their plight and oppression, he spoke out publicly about what was happening. It was for this he died. He gave his life for the poor.
I have been reflecting on what Oscar Romero’s death means to me. It challenges me as to what kind of Bishop God wants me to be. There is a dangerous side to the privilege that is afforded to Bishops. I am invited to big occasions, I am given a central role in our Church’s leadership, I am respected because of my position. If I wasn’t very careful, privilege could turn my head from what really matters. As Christians we are called to love others, not to seek power over them.
The Good News of Jesus is revolutionary. In Holy Week, we travelled from Palm Sunday to Good Friday and saw how Jesus turned his back on worldly power and popular acclaim. Willingly, he took a place beside the outcast, the condemned and the guilty, on a cross. Jesus was power-less, on the cross. And he says to us, ‘take up your cross and follow me’.
Jesus calls us to live for others and not just for ourselves. That applies in our individual lives and the choices we make. It also applies to our parishes and to our Dioceses. As Jesus' love for us led him to the cross, His example invites us to think more clearly about what it means to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’. How much of what we hold dear are we willing to sacrifice because of our love for others? In our parish and Diocesan programmes are we just looking after ourselves as members of the Church of Ireland? Or are we concerned and committed to those in need in the communities and towns where we are placed, no matter what their background or what church they belong to, or whether they have a faith at all?
Can we do anything at all? We are so small, we have so few resources. Think of Oscar Romero again. If was after he gave up his power and influence that he became such an effective channel of God’s love.
What we learn from the Easter Story is that God’s love is the greatest power in this world. When we act in selfless love for others, something is done which is of eternal value. This is the Mission of the Church. To respond in Christ-like love to those in need. And out of the poverty of our action, God will work. This is Easter hope.
I leave you with words from Oscar Romero which I keep by me at all times:
It helps now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even 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 programme 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 far beyond our capability.
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 the Lord'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.
Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980)
Taken from ireland.anglican.org