Commentary on the Second Work of Justice and Peace

from the homilies of Oscar Romero of El Salvador.

+ Hear the truth when it is spoken to you. Discern the signs of
the times and speak truth ---- to power, to the people, and to the
Church. Second Work of Justice and Peace.

Those who do not understand transcendence cannot understand us.
When we speak of injustice here below and denounce it, they think
we are playing politics. It is in the name of God's just reign
that we denounce the injustices of the earth.

Not just purgatory but hell awaits those who could have done
good and did not do it. It is the reverse of the Beatitude that
the Bible has for those who are saved, for the saints, "who could
have done wrong and did not." Of those who are condemned it will
be said: they could have done good and did not. July 16, 1977

You heard today in the first reading the accusations: "Death to
that Jeremiah! He's demoralizing the soldiers and all of the
people with those speeches. That man doesn't promote the people's
good, but their harm."

See how the accusations against the prophets of all times are
the same. When the prophet bothers the consciences of the
selfish, or of those who are not building with God's plans, he is
a nuisance and must be eliminated, murdered, thrown into a pit,
persecuted, not allowed to speak the word that annoys.

But the prophet could not tell them anything else. Read in the
Bible how Jeremiah often prays to God, "Lord, take this cross
away from me. I don't want to be a prophet. I feel my insides
burning because I have to say things even I don't like."

It's always the same. The prophet has to speak of society's sin
and call to conversion, as the church is doing today in San
Salvador: pointing out whatever would enthrone sin in El
Salvador's history and calling sinners to be converted, just as
Jeremiah did. August 14, 1977

A society's or political community's reason for being is not the
security of the state but the human person. Christ said, "Man is
not for the Sabbath, the Sabbath is for man." He puts human
beings as the objective of all laws and all institutions. Humans
are not for the state, the state is for them. January 15, 1978

The church must suffer for speaking the truth, for pointing out
sin, for uprooting sin. No one wants to have a sore spot touched,
and therefore a society with so many sores twitches when someone
has the courage to touch it and say: "You have to treat that. You
have to get rid of that. Believe in Christ. Be converted."
January 15, 1978

But there is an "atheism" that is closer at hand (than Marxism)
and more dangerous to our church. It is the atheism of
capitalism, in which material possessions are set up as idols and
take God's place. Vatican II is the one that points it out:
"Atheism arises at time. . . from wrongly making certain human
goods into absolutes, so that they are then substitutes for God.
Present-day civilization, not in itself, but because it is too
much wrapped up in earthly affairs, can often make it harder to
approach God."

Here, in a capitalism that idolizes money and "human goods", is
a danger for us as serious as the other, and perhaps more than
the other, which gets the blame for all evils. Which is more
serious: to deny God out of a false idea of human liberation, or
to deny him out of selfishness raised to the level of idolatry?
Who are the greater hypocrites, those who believe in this world
to the point of denying openly what is transcendent, or those who
use what is transcendent and religious as a tool and
justification for their idolatry of the earth? November 15, 1978

God in Christ dwells near at hand to us. Christ has given us a
guideline: "I was hungry and you gave me to eat." Where someone
is hungry, there is Christ near at hand. "I was thirsty and you
gave me to drink." When someone comes to your house to ask for
water, it is Christ, if you look with faith.

In the sick person longing for a visit Christ tells you, "I was
sick and you came to visit me." Or in prison.

How many today are ashamed to testify for the innocent! What
terror has been sown among our people that friends betray friends
whom they see in trouble! If we could see that Christ is the
needy one, the torture victim, the prisoner, the murder victim,
and in each human figure so shamefully thrown by our roadsides
could see Christ himself cast aside, we would pick him up like a
medal of gold to be kissed lovingly. We would never be ashamed
of him.

How far people are today -- especially those who torture and
kill and value their investments more than human beings -- from
realizing that all the earth's millions are good for nothing, are
worthless, compared to a human being. The person is Christ, and
in the person viewed and treated with faith we look on Christ the
Lord. March 16, 1980