Anti-Racism Summary: GETTING BACK TO THE “US”!

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Submitted by: Anti-Racism Working Group


Anti-Racism Working Group

My dear brothers and sisters, this may be the last time I am given the opportunity to address all of you at an annual assembly. So, allow me to be very direct and to the point. When I was asked to formulate a three-year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan for this
association, I believed that the invitation was extended to me with the expectation that I would be honest, courageous and committed to offering to all of you some of what needs to be done. Whether that was behind the invitation or not, it was certainly behind my acceptance to do so. Our anti-racism team offers you, this time around, Year III of the Strategic Plan: “Dismantle the Structural and Deeply Systemic Racism in Our American Society”.

Now, we come to the challenge to take seriously what this three-year strategic plan on anti-racism should be all about—not more paperwork to be put on a shelf but persistent and committed action to make the right difference in all of our lives. Any plan
has no real value until it’s purpose is fulfilled by implementing what steps are called for in the plan. So, let us take a closer look at this anti-racism plan in a somewhat different way. The Book of Genesis records God’s decision to create our world and all of us in
it. God’s decision was quoted as “ Let US create human beings in our own image and likeness”. With this being the case, we should see that we were created in the image of the relationship of the Trinity! As Fr. Bryan Massingale describes this: “…oneness
with distinction but not separation, unity with diversity but not division”. Human beings are created in the image and likeness of this “US”, a holy and sacred—divine relationship!

What does this mean and what should this mean for us today? We have strayed far away in our human history from how we got started in its beginning. We are called today to re-examine what each one of us has or has not done with this strategic plan
called for by this association. Looking at dismantling the structural and deeply systemic racism in this American society, the challenge for us comes—not from this strategic plan but from God’s plan.

In the 59 Chapter of the Book of Isaiah, the prophet spoke at a time when the injustice and immorality were pervasive in his Israelite society. He said to God’s people:

“The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. God saw that there was no one…no one to intervene.” (Isaiah 59: 15-16)

You see, it wasn’t enough for God’s people to long for justice. God called them to be creators of justice. Justice happens to the degree that we align ourselves with God’s hand of fairness. When we teach a disabled child to walk or read, when we care for the
elderly whose sight is dim or whose memory is fading, when we rally support for the marginalized or oppressed, we accomplish something that will continue in the world to come. It is a wonderful thing to restore art, antique cars or dilapidated houses.
However, it is a holy thing—with a sacred effect—to restore someone’s human dignity. Have we come very far with the true restoration of human dignity for our alienated and marginalized people of color in this American society? I would say: “Not so!”

We, people of color in this American society, have as our heritage the enslavement of our ancestors—and the ongoing effects of racist practices (in our Church, as well as in this society) happening to this day. We have heard formal and informal apologies for the sins of the past—but we have yet to see any true atonement for sins of either the past or in the present. We have seen (on a large scale and some smaller scales) acts of reparation—but we fail to see true and heartfelt evidence of repentance. If any of this makes you uncomfortable, then welcome to our “people of color in this America” who have never been able to enjoy the comfort some of you have.

What is the best reason we have to take seriously what this means? I would say that it must come only from the Sacred Scriptures. The Book of Revelation gives us a part of the heavenly vision given to John: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The
former earth and the former heaven had passed away…” Many times, this vision is presented as what we should look for when we get to heaven. Perhaps its intention is to remind us—reveal to us—what God is looking for—in us—before we get to heaven!
With the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, we have already been empowered to renew the face of the earth and make it pleasing to God. The more we bring renewal to the hearts and souls of all God’s people on this earth, the more we get ourselves back to the divine US — human beings created in the image and likeness of the Three Persons in one God Who created us.

One final comment. Some time ago in an evening session on anti-racism, one lady was sharing he surprise at the “push back” she was experiencing in her all-white parish when she raised the issue there. Out of frustration, she asked: “Just what is the Church?” I responded: “I cannot answer that question. All I can tell you is that Jesus called together a community of disciples. That is all that I can tell you.” When I woke up the next morning, I saw (for myself) the Almighty standing at my bedside. (I would like to think that it was the Almighty standing there all night, assuring me of safe and comfortable rest.) Anyway, as soon as I woke up, this is what the Almighty said to me: “The Church: the ongoing experience of divine intervention with human interference.” The equation is simple and clear: the less human interference we do, the more divine intervention God does for us. Let us, then, get ourselves back to the US—the divine relationship of the Trinity in Whose image and likeness we humans were created.

Fr. John T. Judie

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