Well, what a week it has been.
I was looking forward to our first public Masses since March 16, 2020. It was terrific to have people back in the church for Mass. It was the high Church Feast of Pentecost, the Birthday of the Church: the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Apostles. The same Holy Spirit gave the Apostles the courage and wisdom to go into the world and spread the Truth of Jesus Christ; to endure hardship, suffering and even death for His Name. What a glorious feast it is.
Thank you to everyone who helped with cleaning and preparing in various ways. (And have done so this past weekend.)
It would seem the lengthened Lent of COVID-19 without public Mass – and the various other restrictions placed upon us – was lessening. Ah, but the devil does not give up so easily.
COVID engendered, and still does, fear, loneliness, isolation, sadness, frustration, discouragement, etc. These are tools of the devil. He also uses chaos, fear and hatred to separate man from God and man from man.
The headlines are no longer COVID, but racial tensions. The tools are still the same as mentioned above. Satan is behind all the fear, sadness, discouragement, hatred, violence and chaos.
The headlines are of the tragic death of an African American man (George Floyd), riots and violence. (Yes, there have been peaceful marches in the midst of the headlines. We had one here in Gainesville. But, peaceful anything doesn’t sell as well as crisis and chaos.)
I am still struggling with the question, ‘Why?’
Why the violence? Why the fifteen people dead? Why the simple businesses attacked? (Agreed, there are professional agitators using racial tensions to cause chaos.) Is there a solution to all of this unrest?
Yes. His Name is Jesus Christ. He Died to set us free; free from hatred, violence and chaos. Free to forgive. Free to love my neighbor as myself.
When we look at so many throughout our Catholic history we see many, many who have experienced prejudice. When they were able to forgive, they were able to love. They were able to become saints.
One that comes to mind is Fr. Augustus Tolton – the first African American priest in America. He was born into slavery in 1854 and suffered greatly. He later became a very holy priest after, he says, the priests taught him how to forgive.
More recently, I recall reading Justice Clarence Thomas’ book wherein he tells of racist Catholic seminarians. It led to him leaving the seminary and losing his Catholic Faith for a time. Thankfully, he returned to the Church many years ago.
Close to home, I am mindful of our local law enforcement – black and white – who have endured many insults – and injuries – over the last ten days: all silently as not many media are interested. In speaking with them, they hold no hatred in their hearts.
Is my fellow man a child of God? Does he have dignity from God? Is he my brother? Is she my sister? Isn’t this one facet that makes us different as Catholics, as Christians? Isn’t this the mentality that has converted empires? To see Christ in my neighbor. To love my neighbor as myself!
How did St. John Paul II deal with prejudice from the communists in Poland and worldwide. He spent hours each day with Our Lord Jesus. He prayed daily to the Virgin Mary. He spoke. He wrote. He met peacefully. His presence brought about the greatest human revolution in the world – the downfall of one of the greatest forms of persecution the world has ever known, Communism.
Who is the One Who heals wounds? Who reconciles? Who brings peace?
May we truly know Him that He may set us free.