How the Holy Spirit Moving Me to Act Against Racism
Notice I didn’t stop at saying that I am not racist. I think there is more to my baptismal call than passive disclaimers that come way too easy to me. I don’t know about you, but once I know about something, like an injustice, it’s hard for me to ignore it, no matter how much I would rather do so. Fr. James Martin addresses this in a recent article, The Holy Spirit is Moving Us to Act Against Racism, in America Magazine.
“Do you feel anger, sadness, frustration, confusion and rage over the death of George Floyd? That is your Pentecost: That’s the Holy Spirit moving through you.”
Fr. Martin says, This is what strikes my own heart the most: not simply the legacy of racism that I know and read about, but seeing it in action, and seeing a beloved child of God treated like that. I can’t stand seeing people treated like that. I can’t describe adequately how angry it makes me, and why it moves me to tears. And I cannot imagine what a black person feels when they see that. And they see it a lot.
He goes on to relate this to Jesus’ example: This moved Jesus too. Whenever he saw people being mistreated, the Gospels tell us, his heart was "moved with pity." The original Greek is much stronger: Jesus felt it “in his guts.” This is one reason why he consistently sided with the poor, the outcast, the marginalized. Because this is where Jesus stands. Jesus stands with those who are beaten. Jesus stands with those who are persecuted. Jesus stands with the black men and women who have been killed by armed white men or by police officers. Jesus stands with the protesters crying out for justice, crying out that black lives must matter.
And then he gets practical, with some good advice: What can Catholics do about these sins? First, begin by listening to what our African-American brothers and sisters tell us. So I want to recommend a book, a speech and an article that have all challenged me. First, Darnell L. Moore’s book No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America. Second, Father Bryan Massingale’s talk to a group of young people, “The Magis and Justice,” on the Catholic response to racism. And third Olga Segura’s recent article in America, “How Can Catholics Help Lead the Fight Against Racism?” You can read and listen, and then encourage your parish, especially if it is predominantly white, to talk about racism, and start faith-sharing groups to discuss how to combat it.
Please feel free to read his entire article, packed with amazing perspective.