By Fr. Tom Zelinksi, OFM Capuchin
These days, some sad and disturbing news comes to us. We hear of questionable actions by a police officer, a man dies, angry people respond with violent action. This is a scene all too often repeated. What might we think about all this?
I have never been a police officer. I do not know the burden and the fear in that position. It is often a thankless job. Yet we need police to help keep order in our society. But I also have not walked in the shoes of my African-American brothers and sisters. I have not known their inner experience of being judged or feared simply because of the color of their skin. I have not felt their experience of being stopped by police. A common expression is that some are stopped for “driving while Black.”
All of these troubling events remain the heritage of our history of slavery. White people brought slaves from Africa and then resented them for being who they were: probably the sting of a guilty conscience. We call that whole story the sin of racism.
What is any of us to do? As with so many things, it could start by looking within. What does my conscience tell me about my own thoughts and feelings? How do I respond at the sight of someone who looks different from me? How might I be led to wrongly judge people simply by appearance? How well do I live the message of Matthew 25, where Jesus tells us that what we do for any brother or sister, we do for him?
By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Capuchin
Since Ascension Day, I have been thinking about the behavior of the disciples as mentioned in the First Reading and the Gospel of the feast. In the First Reading they are asking Jesus if he is going to restore the Kingdom of Israel. It sounds like they still did not understand that Jesus was not about to restore an earthly kingdom.
Even after all his teaching, they still didn’t “get it.” (Acts 1:6) Then in the Gospel it says they “worshiped, but they doubted” as they met Jesus again after the Resurrection. (Matthew 28:16-20) Doubted what? That this was really Jesus with them? Doubted his message? Doubted what they had seen in his healing ministry?
In other words, at this time, as Jesus was about to physically leave, and he was about to hand on his mission to them, they still did not “have it all together.” They were a work in progress. They had yet to experience Pentecost. But all this is to remind us that no one is an “instant saint.” These men and women had to deepen and grow in their relationship with God in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Does that sound familiar? Some of us, even at an advanced age — and I include myself — remain works in progress and don’t “have it all together.” The Holy Spirit continues to work in us, using even our weakness and mistakes to do some good in the world. “After all these years I should be more charitable, patient, hopeful, kind, should be better at praying.” Yes. Amen.
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