Fr. Tom, 8-27-17

Dear Loyola Parishioners & Visitors:
On Wednesday, Fr. Dirk sent this email out to the Jesuit community: “For tonight’s spirituality night I suggest we consider the events in Charlottesville, but from a Catholic Christian standpoint, and in a spirit of prayer. What might a Christian response look like. Perhaps we can help one another formulate one.” I think a fair summary of the conversation would be we start from the place of experiencing Christ acting in our lives and looking for Christ acting in the life of others. We go to the gospel and proclaim the truth of the gospel to those we perceive as acting in a way contrary to the gospel and possessing attitudes contrary to the gospel. Beyond that, I am not sure we reached common agreement.
For my part, I shared that I think myself and other followers of Christ are called to ask ourselves: “What is Jesus’ commandment? How do you interpret it? Does love one another as I have loved you only apply to how the apostles relate to one another or does it have wider application? What about the commandment about love of enemies? Do I find validation for my racist, hateful, sexist, anti-religious attitudes and practices in the Scriptures? Some Christians have and do. How do I understand Jesus’ interactions with Samaritans, Canaanites, Romans and the religious leaders?”
I shared that I think we are called to find identification with those gathered. Have you never experienced hateful attitudes towards others? Have you never acted with hate toward others? Especially segments of the population. You may have grown past those attitudes and behaviors, but the other has not and so that is where they are at and where you once were. Can you accept that reality and them as not having yet arrived at the place you are now with your attitudes and behaviors? I said I really believe I have not experienced conversion until I can truthfully say I see Christ or the image of God in the persons around me. I continue to live outside the reign of God, not seeing the kingdom of God which Jesus said was there if only I had eyes to see it. I continue to remain a Christian as religion not a Christian as follower of Christ.
Finally, I said I think we as Christians and faith leaders are called to enter the fray, to get between the two opposing sides set to fight or already fighting and try to separate them. We may get hurt or killed doing so, but if we don’t others may well get killed or hurt. I am reminded of stories
we all have heard about how a gunman starts shooting in a school and while others duck and hide and lock doors, a teacher or principal or guidance counselor runs towards the shooter knowing not to do so means the potential of lives lost. We are called to that courageous witness of
our faith. We are called to witness to our belief in Christ and the Resurrection and the gospel of Jesus’ way of living and dying…and rising.
Fr. Tom