Supplanting hatred, bigotry, with understanding, respect

By: By Barbara Roedel

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 3

Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4; Psalm 95:1-2,6-7,8-9; 2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14; Luke 17:5-10

Jesus’ disciples experienced challenges and difficulties in following him. Thinking they had too little faith, the disciples asked Jesus for more faith. Jesus’ response must have shocked them. He tells the disciples to use what faith they already have!

In the second reading, St. Paul instructed Timothy, a religious leader, to trust that God has given him every gift necessary to carry out his ministry.
Both readings emphasize putting our faith into action. Faith, the size of a tiny mustard seed, empowers us to love and to serve. It also helps to notice examples of faith in action.

Last month, on Sept. 11, religious leaders of the Quad Cities gathered and penned an interfaith statement denouncing bigotry, hatred, and violence directed at Islam and Muslims in the United States. It stated that “religious liberty is a universal right joined to a universal responsibility to protect that right — not just for ourselves, but for all others.” It called all Americans of good will to stand in solidarity against bigotry and hate in order to reach a deeper understanding and respect for one another. To demonstrate this, more than 400 people crowded into a local mosque to witness that love and faith in God can destroy bigotry and hate.

STANDING IN SOLIDARITY
Though it has been awhile, I still remember when a Jewish family in 1993 displayed a menorah in the window of their home in Billings, Mont. A brick was thrown through their son’s bedroom window in an ugly display of religious bigotry. Hatred and intolerance divided the community.

Appalled by the violent act, the Christian community rallied together. The local newspaper published full-age images of menorahs. Thousands of paper menorahs appeared in windows throughout town by the end of the week. The message on the sign of the local sporting goods store was clear “Not in our town! No hate. No violence. Peace on Earth.”

These two events witness faith and love in Jesus Christ, empowering us to stand in solidarity with others. Through faith actions like these, Jesus Christ is bringing about God’s kingdom.

If we truly believed we had faith the size of a mustard seed, we would say:
— Racism, be uprooted and plant a spirit of freedom and integrity.
— Homelessness, be eradicated and plant a spirit of dignity.
— Hunger, be satisfied and plant a desire to work for justice.
— Religious intolerance, be replaced with mutual respect and honest dialogue.
— Violence and hatred, be ended and plant a heart of love and peace.

May Jesus Christ uproot these evils from our hearts and plant in us a spirit of prayer and service.

Barbara Roedel is the pastoral associate at St. Pius X Parish in Rock Island. Contact her at broedel@stpiusri.org.

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