Looking at the images of recent shooting incidents in Minnesota, Louisiana, and Dallas, Catholics can be justifiably horrified by the current level of racial division within our beloved nation. But the reality which fuels this violence, and the only truly lasting solution for this dilemma, can be found solely in stepping back, with the aid of Catholic Tradition, while viewing all of this through the ‘big picture’ perspective of Revealed Truth.
“The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may eat freely of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die’ ” (Gen 2:16-17).
The Book of Genesis reveals the perennial pattern of human failure. Satan ceaselessly tempts us into self-reliance, and forgetfulness of God, in availing to us the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ and the pseudo-freedom to set up our own value systems apart from the Revealed Wisdom of God. In complying with evil, we have perennially shifted, and manipulated, the measure of human dignity for certain individuals and groups of people, for self-gratification and political and economic gain. Subsequently, we have made manifest, in every century, the grand design for human division, in the historical scheme of Satan, through the sad societal dis-ease of racism, bigotry, discrimination, and genocidal violence.
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written: “He catches the wise in their own ruses…” (1 Corinthians 3:19)
Within this grand scheme we are deceived into believing that this is an acute problem, with acute, quick-fix, answers. Consequently, we are inheritors, and initiators, of purely human ideologies and institutions designed to tackle a perennial and spiritual problem through mostly temporal solutions. In inheriting worldly problems, and a fallen worldly nature, humanity, in all of its philanthropic and magnanimous efforts, has paradoxically set up institutions, and human ideologies, which have caused more harm than good. The products of Marxism (communism and socialism), the products of progressivism (relativism and political correctness), and the products of the eugenics movement (abortion and euthanasia), have all been birthed with the misguided desire to free a certain segment of the population from the perceived tyranny of another. But all of them have one thing in common — the resulting oppression of another group through the illusive quest for liberty. And this can be acutely seen through the deleterious effects of these three ideologies on, both, the lives of ‘people of color’ in the United States, and subsequent race relations in general. For socialism has set up class warfare, progressivism has guided this warfare along racial lines, and the eugenics movement has killed more ‘people of color’ than any other social reality.
St. Pope John Paul II, from his encyclical ‘Veritatis Splendor,‘ has taught us:
“With this imagery, Revelation teaches that the power to decide what is good and what is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone. The man is certainly free, inasmuch as he can understand and accept God’s commands. And he possesses an extremely far-reaching freedom, since he can eat “of every tree of the garden”. But his freedom is not unlimited: it must halt before the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, for it is called to accept the moral law given by God. In fact, human freedom finds its authentic and complete fulfilment precisely in the acceptance of that law. God, who alone is good, knows perfectly what is good for man, and by virtue of his very love proposes this good to man in the commandments.”
“There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither slave nor freeman, there can be neither male nor female — for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “The divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the unity of the divine persons among themselves.” Therefore, the divine image is present regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and differing abilities.
The Catholic Church has been immensely blessed with saints of all races, ethnicities, age ranges, and of both genders. In Augustine Tolton, Josephine Bakhita, and martyrs from Vietnam, Japan, and all over the world, the Catholic Church is truly Universal in its heritage. Salvation history also reveals the Bride and Body of Christ, the Catholic Church, as a communion of saints and a communion of pilgrim believers, bound by the grace and Mercy of God, through liturgy and sacrament, in one faith, one Spirit, and one apostolate. This is an apostolate of faith, hope, and charity, where there is true equality between all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, in our beloved state in the eyes of God, and in our reliance on God’s grace for our salvation. No race, no color barrier, exempts us from the need for God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, and God’s Love.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) remind us: “Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father. Therefore, the first step in recovering a sense of social, and inter-racial, fraternity in our society is the honest and pure act of repentance.
The Catholic Bishops continue: “In order to find the strength to overcome the evil of racism, we must look to Christ. This means that Catholics must lead by example. Therefore as Catholics, we must be countercultural in our charity toward our brothers and sisters of all colors, even when they reject us in the stoked up emotion of the current tumultuous milieu.
The Bishops add:”When we give in to our fears of the other because he or she is of a race different from ourselves, when we prejudge the motives of others precisely because they are of a different color, when we stereotype or ridicule the other because of racial characteristics and heritage, we fail to heed the command of the Prophet Amos: “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; then truly will the Lord… be with you as you claim!… Then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream.”
When ‘black lives matter’ and ‘blue’ lives are lost, with white and black and brown torn asunder through the politics and ideology of racial division, we must evangelize the only answer for ‘the red, white and blue’ in the Crimson Red Blood of our Savior, the snow white purity of our Eucharistic Lord, and the true blue integrity of Divine Mercy. For only in these divine colors will people of all colors discover that they are truly beloved children of God. And only in these divine colors will people of all colors find a home, and a place of solidarity, at the foot of our Crucified Lord; crucified in the sin which divides, Risen in the Love which unites; His Love being the only force capable of overcoming our human divisions.