In his challenge to all of us in spreading the Good News, Pope Francis urges us to enter into relationship with people in a non-judgmental way. We need to have an understanding of the factors in the lives of individuals which have lead them to their present situation.
In our country today we see a great deal of unrest. People have taken to the streets protesting injustices experienced primarily in the African American communities. They want to know why so many unarmed black men have died in encounters with police. And why are there a disproportionate number of African American men in prison and on death row? We are haunted by questions such as these.
In addition to the protests, we have seen violence on our streets. Businesses are being looted and firebombed. Curfews are imposed in order to keep the peace.
We can become so outraged by the violence and lawlessness that we can forget what the real issues are. Can we look beyond the actions of a few and look into our own hearts as to how we can respond to the injustices experienced by our brothers and sisters? Are we willing to face our own prejudices and how they may be adding this situation? Are we willing to listen with an open mind to those who are protesting so that we may have a better understanding?
Perhaps if we can accept the challenge offered to us by Pope Francis in this instance, then the Gospel can be preached and the Kingdom of God can become more of a reality in our world today.
--Br. Tim Sucher, OFM