Aug 20, 2017 - 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia have raised the whole race relations issue yet again in our country. You’d think that in 2017 we would have moved beyond this kind of bigotry and hatred.
The removal of statues commemorating Confederate leaders in New Orleans also speaks to the tensions that continue to simmer and even seem to be reaching a boiling point.
These fights suggest that maybe we don’t fully understand our history. We cannot rewrite our history. It is what it is. We can learn from it.
I think these fights certainly say that we still do not understand the beauty of diversity. These fights say that we still have a long way to go.
There are these racial stereotypes that are being propagated on all sides. These hateful slurs may have a hint of truth but they are always hateful and exaggerated beyond belief. And yet they are believed.
So many people are still so very racist. We divide ourselves into all these different categories of us versus them.
Then to make matters worse, we take these different categories and try to make some of them good and some of them bad, some of them right and some of them wrong, some of them beautiful and some of them ugly, some of them holy and some of them sinful.
The ways we divide ourselves are endless: black and white, gay and straight, male and female, young and old, republican and democrat, conservative and liberal.
Look at the disciples in the gospel. They are the same as we are. Listen to what they say about the Canaanite woman: Send her away. She is not one of us. She is not like us. She is a dog.
We must not allow this mean spiritedness to remain in our hearts. We must purge ourselves of this bigotry and racism and hatred.
Otherwise we look and act like the disciples, we look and act like the protestors in Charlottesville, we look and act like racist, bigoted terrorists.
Blame on all sides? Blame lies with all those who choose violence as a means of solving our differences when we should be celebrating those differences. If we were all alike, the world would be a most boring place.
The word Pope comes from the Roman word Pontifex meaning bridge builder. Building a bridge takes time and patience and effort.
We must make an effort to overcome the racism and bigotry and hatred that resides in our hearts. We must make an effort to see all people as children of God.
And listen to me good: We must make our house of worship a place where all God’s children are made to feel welcome; a place where all God’s children feel like they belong.
Black or white. Gay or straight. Young or old. Married or divorced. Liberal or conservative. Saint or sinner. I don’t care!! Everyone is welcome here. Everyone has a place at the Lord’s table.
We see the disciples and we don’t like the way they behave toward that poor woman and her sick daughter. But we do the same thing all the time.
So we have to start to change. And that change begins in our hearts. And like building that bridge, it will take a good long while.
But then it begins to happen. We begin to change, and that change begins to spill over into our church. And then it begins to spill over into our community.
The Prophet Isaiah speaks for the Lord: My house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples.
This is not my house. This is not your house. This is God’s house. And in God’s house, all God’s children have a place at the table.
Even those who turn their backs, even those who refuse to come still have a place at the table and will always have a place at the table.
Racism and bigotry may still be alive and well in our country. And many are saying things that divide us rather than unite us. To them I say, shame on you. Because this kind of hatred has no place in our hearts. And it certainly has no place in this house..