Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
It was a flawless day, I don’t remember having had such a perfect day for the Ice Cream Social Cakewalk and Dance. I found myself standing back, looking at what we have done in building this community and felt a deep sense of joy. Here, at least, was a capsule of peace, where people could come together and just enjoy the afternoon, the ice cream and one another, kids could run around in safety and real connections were made among people.
If only it were so everywhere – right? We are so grateful that God has given so much to us, but we are also painfully aware that it is not so in many places in the world. The stories of human cruelty and suffering multiply daily becoming uncountable instances of desperate need. What can we possibly do to help ease their sadness and suffering? To make the world a safe and peaceful place for all God’s children?
Of course, we reach out in whatever way we can. And we pray. When I was writing the intercessions for Mass last week this idea was on my heart, and we prayed: “That the wrongs that others do may NOT be kept alive in us in the form of discrimination, judgment and hatred; that we may be examples of Christ’s love, we pray to the Lord.” I think this is the most difficult aspect of evil and sin, that its damage can cause us to sin, too, as we are dealing with its effects. We can decide to keep the effects of these sins alive and damaging. Sins of hatred must not cause others to hate; it is easy to fall into this trap. Then evil has won the day.
But if we were able to respond in love? Well, that is the idea we are all familiar with, but it is
not so easy in action as it is in concept. “Hate the sin but love the sinner” is a hard teaching.
We can’t condemn whole peoples or cultures for what we are seeing happening around us, no matter how horrible the images on television or unthinkable the reports. Terrible crimes have been committed in the name of religion – ours, too – ever since human beings have been involved. It isn’t the religion driving it, ever; it is in the evil choices of extremists who have hijacked truth and twisted its interpretation to their purposes.
But we must condemn the actions and do what we can to prevent them, together, and do everything we can to make sure that the actions end there. In response, then, we must be people of truth who reveal it in our own lives. We seek it in others, and respond to it in love when it is found. We encourage it, we teach it and form it in our young people and learn it from the wisdom of our elders. And we keep alive in our memories the beautiful afternoon and the gathering of family and friends as a reminder that God continues to bless, and to guide us.
God bless you.