By Tom White
On Sunday, June 12, 2016 Fr. Phil Egan, Pastor of Holy Family Parish in Kansas City, Missouri, spoke at the 11:00 am parish liturgy profoundly, pointedly and passionately about the tragic results of categorizing anyone for any reason particularly when we judge them to be “different.” He reminded us that Jesus calls us to respect one another as the good of God’s creative love, not to destroy it.
Yet another chronicle of mass death was being played out in the media for all to see beginning in the early hours of Sunday. Once again we are faced with the spectre of deaths-to-be explained, motivations to be parsed, and choices seemingly made out of sheer desperation.
Mental health professionals encourage us to “talk with our children” in helping them deal with death. Yet we struggle to determine exactly what words to use, which terms are descriptive enough yet not too graphic and find the reassurances that “all will be OK.” The problem is, however, WE are not sure all will be OK.
We consult our internal thesaurus for the alternative words which may be less violent, less descriptive, less painful but in the end, we know the word to use: HATE. We must call it for what it is.
Jesus calls us to love in the face of hate but want us to think that to be a softness in the Christian message. When we perceive evil we cannot meet it with platitudes we may be told, we must be strong , we must exact a price in Jesus’ name we are encouraged. We even depict St. Michael the Archangel with a sword! We are taught to hate evil! When we choose to arm the angels we move forcefully into the dangerous world of judging, even judging the different.
Loving one another is neither weak nor easy. Recognizing the worth of another as a gift of God is not a platitude. Respecting our neighbor as a person of worth is a very serious commitment.
Love of neighbor requires a fundamental change in attitude. Perhaps we need to consider that to hate is in reality the easy way, the soft way, the weak way. Hate is a luxury we cannot afford … ever. The high price of hate is being paid for yet again. We must purge hate from our own hearts or it will inhabit our very being, even cost us our life.
That talk with our children? Ourselves? Perhaps we speak together about such things as peace in the family, among playmates, at school, between moms and dads, or neighbors. Perhaps we talk among ourselves how we can better channel our anger when we encounter that feeling. Perhaps we speak more pointedly of what Scripture asks of us: Love God and our neighbor as ourselves. Perhaps we re-read Genesis and repeat to ourselves, out loud and with conviction the words: “God saw all that was made and said it is very good.” Perhaps we take to heart what Fr. Phil so sadly but lovingly shared with us: Who am I to judge?