The Last Sermon (For Archbishop Oscar Romero)

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.

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