The Words of Oscar Romero*
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a 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 includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. 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.
*The quote above, though attributed to Archbishop Romero was originally written by the late Ken Untener who became the much-loved bishop of Saginaw, Michigan. He wrote it while he was the vicar general of his diocese for a speech given by his bishop. The quote came to be associated with Archbishop Romero—a gift, so to speak, from one bishop to another.
Bishop Untener died in March of 2004. He was 66 years old.
Oscar Romero was murdered in El Salvador on March 24, 1980, while presiding at Mass. His efforts to assist the poor and to speak out against social injustice, poverty and the assassinations occuring in his country cost him his life. He was 62 years old. Our Holy Father, Francis, declared him a martyr, paving the way for his canonization held in October 2018.
Saint Oscar Romero, pray for us!