Homily for the Mass in memory of Archbishop Oscar Romero

24 March 2013 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Tokyo



Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus,


Today, Passion Sunday, we commemorate the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem, his Passion and his Death on the Cross.

Today, here in the Tokyo Cathedral, we also commemorate the violent death of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated on 24 March, 1980.

Archbishop Romero lived as his Lord Jesus lived, in obedience to his Father’s will. He loved and protected the poor and oppressed, and for this reason he was killed, just as Jesus Christ was crucified out of love for us.

As a successor of the apostles, every bishop is expected to protect and serve his people, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment based on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46).


Today’s Gospel according to Luke tells us in detail how Jesus was crucified.

He taught us to love our enemies and he put his teaching into practice by praying for those who persecuted him and were putting him to death. Jesus offered his life for us, for our salvation, for our redemption from sin.

Jesus said: “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” (23:4)


We also read the following passage:

The people stood by and watched. The rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” (23:35)

And one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” (23:36)


But Jesus did nothing for himself. He did not use his power for himself.

St. Paul says in today’s second reading, the letter to the Philippians.

(Christ), though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. (2:6-8).


Archbishop Romero was shot to death just when he was elevating the chalice during Mass. His death was the death of a Martyr. He is a witness to God’s love for the poorest, the weakest, the least important.


Let us pray that we may believe more deeply in the love of God and put it into practice through the intercession of the Servant of God, Archbishop Oscar Romero.