The tragedy at Immanuel AME Church in South Carolina is a tragedy that has fallen on our whole nation. These nine deaths at the hand of this young man forces me to ask myself, ‘Am I holding on to some thoughts that lessen the value of other human beings?’ I watched the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s and always thought of myself as someone who respected others, who regarded ‘no one according to the flesh.’ But this incident makes me wonder.
When I taught high school we had a racial incident. Someone had written KKK in a bathroom stall. During our discussions, it was learned that offensive script was written two years ago. No one thought to remove it. And because it remained there, the community, even unconsciously approved it.
I cannot answer for this young man from South Carolina. I can only answer for myself. Because I live in a place that is becoming more and more diverse, I wonder, because I have not had opportunities to challenge myself in this regard, whether old thoughts have really been converted to Christ.
I do know however that what compels me to consider these things is my love for Jesus and once we come to the conviction that He died for everyone, I will have the potential to love better.
The sea is rough, the storm is growing and I am afraid we have not used the anchor of our faith as we could and are drifting away from our original encounter with Jesus, the one that called us to ‘follow Him.’
Pope Francis has written us a letter Laudato Si that the media has already turned into a political tool rather than a statement of faith. In it he says, “Every act of cruelty towards any creature is “contrary to human dignity”. “A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings.”
I am afraid we are becoming cold, out of touch with our natural humanness and this is producing in our children a sense of confusion, fear and violence; it’s a cultural lesson they are learning. Just take a walk down the street; people don’t even look at each other, let alone say ‘hello.’ Pope Francis is calling on all men, women and children to dialogue, to talk to each other and to act in ways that will respect all of creation regardless of race or creed.
We can join our prayers to the cry of the disciples, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Of course He cares; this is why He has called us all together today to be in His Company and to speak to Him and to offer Him sacrifice.
And how does He respond? “Quiet! Be still! Do you not yet have faith?” Trust in Him, follow in His footsteps and you will be filled with awe. And when others ask, “who is this whom even the wind and the sea obey?” You can say from experience, He is Jesus Christ the Lord!