By Greg Walgenbach, director of the Diocese of Orange Office of Life, Justice and Peace
Last Sunday’s Readings challenged us to a profound trust in God. The ragtag tribes of Israel depend not on the strength of their armies or their technological superiority for victory in battle but rather on their trust in God. As Moses lifts (in prayer, in a symbol of the cross according to the Church Fathers) the same rod that defeated Pharaoh he is joined and supported by Aaron and Hur.
The Psalmist declares that
My help is from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
Finally, Jesus tells a parable of an unjust judge ultimately giving in to a persistent widow. How much more, Jesus exhorts, will “God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?” “But,” he concludes, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
During this Respect Life Month we reflected on some of the greatest challenges to life and dignity we face in our society: abortion, racism, death penalty, mass incarceration, poverty, migration, and assisted suicide, to name a few. Given the challenges reflected in the Readings, we are easily tempted to place our entire hope in our strategies, tactics, and power, on the one hand, or to despair and give up, on the other.
The Gospel of Jesus calls us to faith, to trust in God, and to dependence upon one another.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called this radical dependence together the Beloved Community. He wrote that “the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”
Elsewhere, he wrote: “With every ounce of our energy we must continue to rid this nation of the incubus of segregation. But we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love. While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the Beloved Community.”
May we always do our work in love, trusting the Beloved and accompanying one another. As St. Teresa of Jesus, whose memorial we celebrated recently, wrote: “[L]ove calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.”