The priest was a former businessman who had owned and operated a construction company with his brother. During the unrest following the recent killing of George Floyd, while in police custody, work was being done on the large inner city church of which the priest was pastor. His brother had to bring in a crane with a lift for the work. Since the equipment was already on site, both brothers, with hard hats and strapped in for safety, went up 90 feet to the top of the church. From that viewpoint they were immediately in front of the statue of Mary, to whom the church is dedicated. Their view of the city was all-encompassing. They began praying the rosary for the city suffering from the pandemic of the coronavirus in bodies and the pandemic of racism in souls. They live streamed the event on Facebook, with 2,400 others joining them. At the end of the Rosary, the priest blessed the city with Holy Water praying for peace and justice for all.
In the same city, a young African-American woman and recent college graduate, in consultation with the city, led peaceful, nonviolent protests in the center of the city, right in front of the same church. She has kept open the channels of discussion with civic leaders and is committed to working for the good of all, as she draws light on the sins of racism. She walks in hope for peace and justice for all.
In a poor section of an inner city neighborhood in New Jersey, a religious brother walks in a peaceful march with others from his neighborhood. As he walks he sketches. When the paintings are finished the hope and faith and sorrow of all who participated will be a work of art in color, as it already was in reality. He walked and painted for peace and justice for all.
A man in Washington, D.C., runs out into the street in front of his home as he sees people running and coughing, fleeing pepper spray and tear gas. They were trying to get home before curfew. He opens the door to his home to them. They stay the night. Seventy strangers become friends as they talked and slept and prayed until dawn ended the curfew, and they could return to their own homes. They shared their desire for peace and justice for all.
One of the businesses looted in Chicago was a Catholic bookstore run by an order of religious sisters. While their store was being destroyed, they prayed upstairs where they lived. The next day, they said it renewed their belief in their mission — to spread the word of God, so we may live in peace with one another. They believe in peace and justice for all.
Each of us in our own place and in our own way, if we dare to say we are human, is called to stand for the truth that all people are created by God. Especially if we dare to say we are Christian, we are called to act like Christ who told us “to love one another as he loved us.” Christ makes us brother and sister to every other person. It was our brother who was murdered on the street in Minneapolis last week; and it was our brother who knelt on him until he stopped breathing. Jesus died for the executed and the executioner. A hard reality to hold in tension.
Only God, in his son Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit, can lead us through hate, confusion and evil to love, justice and peace.
Sister Patricia McCarthy currently teaches Math at a Catholic School. For many years she taught troubled children and victims of abuse.