June 21, 2020
Sr. Phyllis Jaszkowiak
Our theme for this year is “Called to Change.” We have certainly had quite a number of changes, as we are in the midst of three crises: of climate change, of health, the pandemic, and racism, with the murder of George Floyd, all of which call us to change.
In the Gospel Jesus tells us, “Fear no one.” And Jeremiah says, “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for God has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.” Dan Misleh, leader of the Catholic Climate Covenant, says, “We must open our hearts to see each other as true brothers and sisters, and to work together, so that on the other end of this unrest, this pandemic, and God-willing, the climate crises, we will be able to truly build a better world – a world where we are actively aware of our common humanity, where inclusivity is embraced, differences celebrated, and where we can all breathe (and live), in peace. It is time for transformative change.”
We meet these crises with the strength, the power, the courage of love. Love does not seek to control, to oppress, to dominate, but seeks to enliven, to free, and to promote growth. As Martin Luther King stated, “Violence begets more violence, hatred begets more hatred. The only thing greater is love.” We need to open ourselves to receive love and then to give it away to others.
Love is not weakness. It is the strength to overcome our fears, to resist evil, non-violently, and to speak the truth forcefully with love. It is hard to do for some of those who have done so have been crucified, lynched, murdered, accused of heresy and being disrupters of society.
Brian Doyle, in 2017, after a shooting, wrote, “I lie awake and think maybe we are exactly the same primates we were a million years ago, and culture and civilization are mere veneer and mask and thin tinny shell, and we will always be pulling triggers in so many ways… always looking for a new way to blow the other guy to bits and then drape righteous excuse over the bloody dirt… I rage, I despair. I am ashamed of that. Both are small. I want to be big. I want us all to be big. I want Christ to be right. I want the word shooter to be forgotten. I want us to outwit violence. But I am so often afraid that we will always be small and Christ was a visionary whose words will drown in a tsunami of blood.”
This is a call for us to change, from the inside out. We need to use the energy of love to transform the energy of our anger, our rage, to work to change ourselves, our community and our world. It takes a lot of hard work to change, and the work is never done. Yes, sometimes we fail. This work must be done in each generation, building on the lessons learned from previous generations.
Today is also Father’s Day. Fathers learn from their own fathers. They learn how to be fathers through doing it, by loving, guiding, esteeming, being truthful and honest with their children. It takes everything a person has to grow into being a good father. Unfortunately some don’t make it. However, God, our Father, is always with us, guiding us, loving us in how to be a good father to our children.
Just as fathers are called to change and to grow into being good fathers, we are all called to change, to grow, to love. Then let us work for the changes needed, elimination of racism, knowing we are all one, caring for our earth, caring for each other. As Fr. Schwab said last Sunday, “We are in communion with one another.” Let us remember what Jesus says, “Fear no one… What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. Do not be afraid.”
Dan Misleh. Statement from Catholic Climate Covenant: IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE. Email from June 3, 2020.
Brian Doyle. A PRAYER FOR OUR DAILY MURDER. US Catholic Magazine, February 2017 Pages 22-23.