Sunday, April 5, 2015

“Easter Is a Shout of Victory!”

Many of you read my 3/20 blog article about Óscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated on March 24, 1980. While celebrating the anniversary Mass of a friend’s death, he was shot and killed in the chapel of the Divine Providence Hospital. That hospital served as a hospice for cancer patients in San Salvador and was also Romero’s place of residence.
Just the day before his assassination, which was the fifth Sunday in Lent, he preached his last Sunday sermon. Here is part of what he said on that occasion:
Easter is a shout of victory! No one can extinguish that life that Christ resurrected. Not even death and hatred against Him and against His Church will be able to overcome it. He is the victor! Just as He will flourish in an Easter of unending resurrection, so it is necessary also to accompany Him in Lent, in a Holy Week that is cross, sacrifice, martyrdom. . . .
Lent, then, is a call to celebrate our redemption in that difficult complex of cross and victory. . . . all who have Christian faith and hope know that behind this Calvary of El Salvador is our Easter, our resurrection, and that is the hope of the Christian people(cited in Scott Wright, “Oscar Romero and the Communion of the Saints,” p. 127).
In an interview he gave earlier that month, Romero said, “My life has been threatened many times. I have to confess that as a Christian, I don’t believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people.
And then in the homily he gave a few minutes before being shot through the heart, Romero declared,
Those who surrender to the service of the poor through love of Christ will live like the grain of wheat that dies. It only apparently dies. If it were not to die, it would remain a solitary grain. The harvest comes because of the grain that dies.
Those words were based on Jesus’ teaching recorded in John 12:24.

Those of you who, like me, grew up in the rural Midwest know about winter wheat. It is sown in the fall, lies “dead” in the earth through the cold winter, comes to life with greet plants shooting up in the spring, and then produces a harvest in the summer.
That is the image of death and resurrection that Jesus referred to and that Romero believed and emphasized in his last sermon. And that is why he could proclaim, “Easter is a shout of victory!”
According to the teachings of Christianity, the Resurrection is something that Jesus Christ experienced, but resurrection will also be experienced by all of Jesus’ followers—such as Joe Wolven, my old friend who was the best man at June’s and my wedding.
Joe died of cancer on the March 21, just before his 76th birthday on April 1. (June and I are so thankful that we were able to drive down to south Missouri on March 9 and to have a good visit with Joe and his wife Cathy at their home near Galena.)
For the Christian believer like Joe, death is the prelude of resurrection. Death is not an end, but the necessary prerequisite for new life. Thus, as Archbishop Romero declared, Easter is, truly, a shout of victory!
Happy Easter!


  1. Take up you cros and follow me.

    For I am crucified with Christ...

    Christians are being massacred across the Africa and the Middle East. Persecuted and reviled for their orthodox faith around the globe, even by others of the "faith". A sad story. Hopefully there is more to a spiritual resurrection than Romero's hope for a personal legacy "resurrection". But as one commentator of the massacre of Christian students in Kenya put it this week - "It's only Afrika. Who cares."

    Thank you, God for the martyrs. ن May they find your a glorious resurrection in you Kingdom not of this world. When the time comes, may I be found as faithful at they.

  2. We are so thankful for our Salvation through the risen Christ and will spend Eternity with Him and our Believing friends in Heaven.
    in our remaining years we are trying to help our friends, relatives, business associate and even strangers, get into Heaven with us.
    We Give Jesus All the Praise&Glory for having risen for us All!
    With Love for All,

  3. "Beautiful, Leroy! Resurrection is not just resuscitation of a corpse; it’s a mighty act of God that opens horizons of hope despite the dark clouds that overshadow us today, as the deliberate destruction of a plane load of people does" (Thinking Friend Glenn Hinson).

  4. I also received these comments from Thinking Friend Bob Perry in Springfield, Mo.:

    "Thanks for your Easter blog. I was pleased to hear of your connection with Joe Wolven. He was pastor of my home church at Verona two different times and was much loved. He did my dad's funeral and would have been asked to do my mom's (now 95) if he had lived.

    "I remember Joe with great affection. He was the ecumenical chaplain of southwest Missouri.