Seeing, and healing, the racial divide

“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” – 1 Cor. 12:12-13, from the second reading on Pentecost Sunday

Last Saturday, the eyes of millions saw a SpaceX-designed rocket successfully launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and enter the earth’s orbit. Eventually, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley rendezvoused their capsule with the International Space Station.

About 250 miles below the space station the earth twirls like a big, blue marble. From the astronauts’ perspective, the only divisions evident are between land and water, atmosphere and space.

But here on earth, and especially this week on our nation’s chunk of the planet’s surface, the heartache of great divisions is all-too evident. Many have compared the United States’ long history of racial injustice and tensions to a virus. And in recent days, that virus came to the fore even as the global population is coping with the sickness of a pandemic.

We invite a close and prayerful read of the joint statement penned by several U.S. bishop committee leaders. It was released May 29, just before the protests — most peaceful, some destructive — spread throughout the nation, including to several cities within our diocese. It might be easy to float indifferently above the necessary conversations and actions, claiming a life perspective that doesn’t see the divisions, the brokenness, the injustices. Our faith, however, tells us that we are one body in Christ. And our eyes and hearts must tell us that parts of that body, and our society at large, are deeply hurting.

Designing and successfully launching a rocket takes an extraordinary commitment of time, effort, and resources. Healing our nation’s racism virus requires and deserves even greater commitment. Are we up to it, fellow members of Christ’s body? As the bishops write, “As members of the Church, we must stand for the more difficult right and just actions instead of the easy wrongs of indifference. We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice.”

May the Holy Spirit dispense those fruits generously in these difficult days. — Thomas J. Dermody

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