By Deacon Derick Cranston
Sometimes life can come crashing down upon us like a giant tidal wave sweeping us out into a sea of confusion and despair. The familiar things that anchored our lives and gave us a sense of purpose and security seem to have been ripped from their moorings.
Events such as the death of a loved one, a failed marriage or an economic collapse can make us feel that we have lost total control of our life. It is as if all meaning and direction in our life has been lost. We feel adrift in a sea of uncertainty and confusion.
Did we ever have complete control of our life though? Can we shape our future in the way we would like it to unfold, or are we part of a vast and divine plan in which we play an integral role, no matter how chaotic our lives may seem? The example set by the life and martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero captures this sentiment beautifully.
Archbishop Romero spent most of his life in the comfortable confines of a prestigious university pursuing the pinnacles of academic excellence when, at age 60, he was sent to El Salvador to be a diocesan bishop. After he arrived, a dictatorship came to power and the country descended into chaos.
Priests in his diocese were rounded up, brutally tortured and killed. He watched helplessly as churches were destroyed; he, himself, suffered several beatings at the hands of the authorities. He must have felt as if his life was falling apart, and that the world he knew was collapsing around him. He did not let this stop him though, and became a voice for the Salvadoran people.
The way he lived his life and his unwavering trust in God inspired millions. His legacy lives on today. On the anniversary of his martyrdom, Bishop Ken Untener drafted a homily for Cardinal John Dearden honoring the life of Oscar Romero. I would like to share some of it with you.
“Nothing we do is complete… We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning… an opportunity for the Lord’s Grace to enter in 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”
That is what life is all about. Allowing God’s Grace to enter into our heart, and offer up our life’s work to the master builder.
(Deacon Cranston is pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman.)