The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, died performing Mass on March 24, 1980, the day after preaching a provocative final sermon (text available here) exposing the state violence in El Salvador at the time. He is remembered in the Anglican Church calendar today and so is the subject of today’s poem.The Last Sermon The day before he died he stood Before the soldiers, pled with them As men, as Christians, to put down Their weapons, to ignore all who Commanded them to kill when God Had set a higher, firmer law. He took his sword and sharpened it Against the whetstone of their pain. The Word he wielded cut straight through The lies, hypocrisy and claims Of ignorance, attempts to hide Behind complacent ritual. And with the violence of love, He took his sword and pierced the shame Of their complicity and cried The cry of the kingdom’s deep pain, A father’s cry, a nation’s cry Of longing to be whole again. And down he went; the servant fell, The violence of his love matched with The violent backlash of mad hate, Of systems which conspired with Hell To hide the Bride of Christ within A vacuum and a prison cell.