On our church calendar, today we commemorate Óscar Romero and the martyrs of El Salvador. Romero, as a Roman Catholic Archbishop, witnessed the state of the poor in his country and began to speak out on their behalf, resulting in his assassination in the middle of celebrating mass in 1980. Canonized in the Roman Catholic Church, Romero’s life and works are also commemorated by many other traditions, including our own.
In our reading from Daniel today, we see another example of witness in a time of oppression in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refusing to bow before King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. We ourselves are asked daily to fall down and worship the idols of our day, most of all, perhaps, the idol of the status quo. Nebuchadnezzar’s idol is as much an acknowledgment of a false god as it is an acknowledgment of both the king’s power and the subjects’ comfort with the oppression taking place in the empire.
Refusing is not easy, which makes such stories as notable and uncommon as they are. Romero was initially much less involved with resisting the oppression of his country. For Romero it took the death of a close friend. In the reading, it is worth noting that among the crowds mentioned, only three refuse to participate.
As Romero, one of many martyrs for a just cause, shows us, God does not always save us from the furnace. But, as Romero and the fourth figure in the furnace would attest, God does not leave us alone. As we near Easter, when we recall Christ slain by the oppressors of his day, let us pause to reflect on those we know who are brave enough to refuse to bow to the idols of our status quo.