Why is it so hard to love one another?
I asked myself this question recently after attending a Lenten event at my Catholic parish entitled, “Racial Equity: A Gospel Perspective.” The evening included table discussions during which Black parishioners shared experiences of marginalization as community members, and also as Catholics. While I live in a racially diverse community, I have no doubt that the realities of racism are both implicitly and explicitly present. However, hearing these and other stories of hatred and exclusion from fellow Catholics pains me. We believe in a Gospel rooted in love and human dignity. Why is it so hard to love another?
On a similar note, last year, my family and I visited Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a powerful location with great significance to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The park commemorates the “Children’s Crusade” which took place in Birmingham during the 1963 business boycott by Black residents protesting the segregation of public facilities like restaurants, schools, and stores. Statues throughout the park illustrate the ways that local police and fire officials, led by the infamous police chief Bull Connor, turned police dogs and firehoses on the children as they marched peacefully through the city streets. While observing a statue of a teenager being attacked by a police dog, one of my then-7-year-old sons remarked, “that is no way to treat another person—what were the police thinking?” He was mystified by the fact that police officers and firefighters, people who commit their lives to help others, could be part of doing something so horrible to other people. It begs the same question, why is it so hard to love another?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is trying to give us the answer to the question, “Why is it so hard to love one another?” He is inviting us into God’s love and to love like God—to overcome the sin of racism.
When have you been challenged to love someone of a different racial or cultural background than you?
What is one way that you can seek to demonstrate God’s unending love for all people through your daily actions?
Chris joined the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) as executive director in 2011. He has over fifteen years of experience in social justice advocacy and leadership in Catholic education and ministry. Prior to ISN he served in multiple roles at John Carroll University, including coordinating international immersion experience and social justice education programming as an inaugural co-director of John Carroll’s Arrupe Scholars Program for Social Action. Prior to his time at John Carroll he served as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and secondary levels in Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Chris speaks regularly at campuses and parishes about social justice education and advocacy, Jesuit mission, and a broad range of social justice issues. He currently serves on the board of directors for Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ). Chris earned a B.A. and M.A. from John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. He and his family reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.