Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

October 28, 2018: The Way of Exclusion

By Paul Turley

I am writing this on Sunday October 14, the day that Óscar Romero, the late Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador, was made a saint by the Vatican. You are reading this for Sunday October 28, the day the citizens of Brazil go back to the polls in a run-off election to decide who will be their next president.

Romero was assassinated in March 1980 while saying mass. Though no one was ever convicted for the crime, investigations by the UN-created Truth Commission for El Salvador concluded that the extreme right-wing politician, member of the U.S.-backed government and death squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson had given the order.

The totalitarian government of El Salvador had an appalling track record of imprisonment, torture, and execution of its critics, particularly priests who took the side of the poor over against the government and many in the hierarchy of the church. In his last years as Archbishop, Romero spoke out strongly against the government and its abuse of the people. It is said that during any one of the archbishops radio addresses you could walk down the main street of any village and not miss a word of the address because it could be heard from every radio in every window.

In his homily the day before his assassination, Romero appealed to the army: “Brothers, we are part of the same people. You are killing your own brother and sister peasants and when you are faced with an order to kill given by a man, the law of God must prevail; the law that says: Thou shalt not kill. No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. And it is time that you recover your consciences… In the name of God, then, and in the name of this suffering people whose laments rise up to heaven each day more tumultuously, I plead with you, I pray you, I order you, in the name of God: Stop the repression!”

The beatification of Romero is linked with the run-off election in Brazil because the front-runner in that contest is a right-wing ex-army captain who is an admirer of the military dictatorship of a quarter of a century ago; a dictatorship responsible for the deaths of thousands of Brazilian citizens, particularly indigenous Brazilians. Jair Bolsonaro is responsible for statements like the following: “Voting won’t change anything in this country. Nothing! Things will only change, unfortunately, after starting a civil war here, and doing the work the dictatorship didn’t do. Killing some 30,000 people, and starting with FHC [referring to then-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the Brazilian Social-Democratic Party]. If some innocents die, that’s just fine.” If he wins on October 28, it seems clear that he will seek to take Brazil back to the kind of regime that was responsible of the killing of Óscar Romero nearly 40 years ago.

As our Seasons of the Spirit material reminds us, our biblical text this week is a “story about a person being restored back to their community.” And it is to the community of all God’s people that our newest saint, Óscar Romero, dedicated his life.

Explore…Mark 10:46–52

  • Our Season’s material tells us, “The miracle of this story is Jesus’ ability to transform exclusion and to help Bartimaeus and the community to see.” How do you resonate with the statement?
  • How do you think about and talk about miracles in our current culture?
  • What does Jesus mean when he says to the blind man, “Go; your faith has made you well”?

Prayer...

God, our world is filled with hopelessness and hopefulness. It is full of evil and with goodness. Give us courage to face the hopelessness and evil and give us eyes to see and to celebrate the hopefulness and goodness all around us. Amen.

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