This morning on this Election Day I awoke thinking of a Catholic priest, whose life and ministry became familiar to me in the beginning days of my campus ministry at the University of Illinois.
Oscar A. Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, in El Salvador, was assassinated on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass in a small chapel in a cancer hospital where he lived.
Romero had always been close to his people, preached a prophetic gospel, denouncing the injustice in his country and supporting the development of popular and mass organizations. He became the voice of the Salvadoran people when all other channels of expression had been crushed by the repression.
Actually this “prayer” was composed by Bishop Ken Untener in 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. Though the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, they were never spoken by him.
On this election day with so many people in this country divided, I was so happy to be reminded of Untener’s words in memory of Oscar Romero (1917–1980).
A Future Not Our Own
It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.
This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.