I find myself in a holy frustration, wrestling with the anguish and despair, the “disjointed elements of reality” our nation and world continue to encounter because of a pandemic within a pandemic: Covid-19 and systemic racism, or more categorically, white body supremacy. Since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and the serial murders of countless other Black children, women, and men by police and vigilantes, the shouts and the cries against deep-seated racism and white body supremacy testifies to a hunger to end this scourge on our public life.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This petition in Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount speaks to one of the most persistent quests of the pilgrim church: to build the reign of God here and now, on earth as it is in heaven.
Many young people and colleagues in my world of Catholic education and beyond are despairing. I hear it. I see it. They are struggling to navigate the violence that lands upon the body from both pandemics. Our phrasing to describe these two interlocking pandemics obscures the visceral experience—the trauma—of this reality.
All our Catholic social teaching phrasing—upholding the life and dignity of each person, solidarity with those impoverished and minoritized by structures of injustice, nurturing the earth and recognizing our interdependence with all God’s creation, our right and responsibility to participate with others in our shared public life—reminds us that Christian discipleship is a call to bind humanity into a single garment, an inescapable network of mutuality.
Listening to Isaiah with our sanctified imagination, the prophet urges us to unleash the transformative faculty of the ethic of love and the ethic of justice.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” If our prayer becomes daily practice, the Spirit of the Living God will move us from confusion and despair to the pathway to mending our hearts and bodies.
- Do you have a sense of how you are a complicit agent in creating systems of racial oppression?
- Drawing on the Catholic social tradition, are you able to uncover the power to imagine yourself as an agent of peace, loving authentically and creating communities of justice?
- Are you on a pathway to becoming an anti-racist, and more specifically, standing against anti-blackness and white body supremacy?
Ernest J. Miller, FSC, D. Min., serves as vice president of mission, diversity, and inclusion at La Salle University. He is a Brother of the Christian Schools, commonly known as the De La Salle Christian Brothers, an international religious order dedicated to the mission field of education and evangelization. He is participating in anti-racist projects of the Lasallian Association of Colleges and Universities.