The grain of wheat that dies
“Those who surrender to the service of the poor through the love of Christ will live like the grain of wheat that dies… The harvest comes because of the grain that dies… We know that every effort to improve society, above all when society is so full of injustice and sin, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.”
Archbishop Oscar Romero, March 24, 1980
Just after speaking these words at a Lenten mass nearly 29 years ago, Monseñor Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, was shot and killed by a single bullet through the heart and El Salvador was plunged into a 12-year civil war described by the United Nations as “genocidal.”
Then Army Major Roberto D’Aubuisson planned Romero’s assassination and ordered his police intelligence agents to carry it out. A year later D’Aubuisson founded the political party Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA) which won the presidency in 1989 and every presidential election since.
But a week from today, El Salvador will have a new president, and polls indicate that he may not be ARENA’s candidate, Rodrigo Ávila, ex-head of the National Police, but rather Mauricio Funes, a retired CNN reporter and member of the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), the former guerrilla side of El Salvador’s civil war, though Funes himself was not involved in war-time revolutionary activities.
This Sunday, March 15, the Salvadoran people will choose their president from between two political parties whose hands and histories are are still stained with blood, and as they enter the polls and cast their votes, there can be no doubt that many will pray for their ballot to bring about the harvest Romero spoke of, a harvest of freedom and peace in a country where so many grains of wheat have died, and too many continue to fall.
I am a member of a non-partisan delegation sponsored by the Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund (SALEF) which is travelling from Los Angeles to our sister city of San Salvador as part of an international effort to prevent fraud during El Salvador’s upcoming presidential elections.