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Mystic Mantra: Saving grace

DC | Francis Gonsalves | March 28, 2014, 07.07 am IST
Archbishop Oscar Romero | Photo AP
Archbishop Oscar Romero | Photo AP

A little boy slipped into a drain while playing. “Bachao! Help me!” he screamed. A passerby ran up and shouted: “Give me your hand! Give!” The boy continued crying without giving his hand. The passerby pleaded anew, “Take my hand! Take!” The boy immediately grabbed his hand and was saved. Puzzled, the passerby asked, “Why didn’t you respond sooner?” Panting, the boy said, “Daddy taught me not to give when people say ‘Give’! but grab fast when someone says, ‘Take!’”

This amusing “saving story” highlights popular thinking: it’s better to grab than to give. But, my current experiences in Latin America’s El Salvador — meaning, “The Saviour” — reinforce my belief that salvation comes from giving, not grabbing. This week, Salvadorans celebrate the 34th anniversary of the martyrdom of their most revered saviour-figure: Archbishop Oscar Romero.

“As a Christian I do not believe in death but in the resurrection. If they kill me, I’ll rise again in the people of El Salvador,” predicted Romero days before he was assassinated on March 24, 1980. Today, I see Romero everywhere: On cutouts, posters, T-shirts, bandanas. Romero lives. Romero is considered “saviour” because his words and works touched hearts and transformed lives. He brought God down to earth. Accused of highlighting “worldly events” he said, “If I do mention particular events of the week, it is to enflesh God’s word in our life, explaining to my people that they should get used to enlightening their own problems with God’s light.” Among enthusiastic crowds I met 87-year Mon-signor Ricardo Urioste, assistant to Romero. “We are a tiny country,” said Urioste, “But God has blessed us with great graces. Yet, the biggest gift God gave us is Romero as our leader.” Prophets like Romero reiterate what the Bible teaches: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”


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