Thursday, August 20, 2020
Jesus Christ, Lord of All
Jesus Christ, Lord of All
Last week at the 9:30 AM Mass I mentioned that I participated in the “My Church, My Story” a forum organized by the Diocese, meeting three times over the course of three weeks, to dialogue with others in our diocese about overcoming any internalized racism in the Church. We heard the story of the main presenter, Dr. Constance Carroll, a Black professor of Classics, who shared her story of growing up Catholic during Jim Crow laws in the South.
We were then divided in small groups where we discussed what and how each person is trying to become more self aware of ideas that promote that one race is better than another, even if in subtle ways.
Part of the conversation in my small group was the candid confession of a member of our group who said that she did not learn about Jim Crow laws in school. She mentioned how she has been catching up by reading and learning how the sin of racism is one that has taken many shapes throughout American culture, becoming more insidious, as more blatant forms became taboo.
I mentioned on Sunday that our primary identity, the one that matters for eternal life is our theological identity: we are children of God. Bishop McElroy in a homily on Trinity Sunday reflected on creation as well, and preached that, “The act of creation is gracious and expansive. It conveys to every person the right to the goods of this world, to equal claims in dignity and society, and to every dimension of justice. God the Father weeps over our continuous refusal to bring this same graciousness into our relationships with others.”
“God grieves that the structures of racism and inequality become imbedded in our ways of thinking, our cultural assumptions, our patterns of residence and friendship and worship,” Bishop McElroy continues. “As we give thanks to God the Father this day for the beauty of the created order, we must confront the disjunction between the Father’s intentions for our world and the social realities that we have created in our vindictiveness, selfishness and pride. We must acknowledge our sin and we must amend.”
I believe that at the end of our life, we will be judged in how we loved God, and how we loved others, especially those in need. Jesus summarized all commandments in love of God and love of neighbor, and when a scholar of the law tried to define neighbor, Jesus answered with the parable of the Samaritan who was neighbor to the wounded Jewish man. Therefore, we can never justify racism. Racism hinders us from God’s holiness.
If we want to grow in holiness, I believe that a great way of seeking direction and inspiration is in getting to know the lives of the saints. Recently I finished reading a biography of St Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She was a woman who was touched deeply by suffering, and in the suffering of others she saw the suffering of Christ. It did not matter that she was from Macedonia, and she was living in another culture in India, where most of the people she cared for were not Christians.
Mother Teresa can teach us that we are united by a common humanity made in God’s image. Therefore it is our duty to expose ideas that describe other races or ethnicities, or even our own, as somehow inferior. There are cultural sins but no culture as a whole is sinful, just like individual persons may commit sinful acts or have sinful tendencies, but as whole no one is totally evil. Maybe this week you could look up the life of a saint who was from a different continent from your ancestors.
As Christians we are called to ongoing conversion of heart, which requires humility to accept our mistakes, and determination to follow Christ. Without Christ, social justice can easily become a quest where the oppressed become the new oppressors. As Christians we can help create a culture of justice where justice flows because Christ reigns and He is prince of peace and Lord of all. To join the last day of the Forum, please visit ‘My Church, My Story’ — Overcoming Racism: Listening, Dialogue, Action.
God bless, Fr. Carlos Medina, OSA