Laudato Si ‘and Fratelli Tutti call us to meet each other
In May, we celebrate the sixth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical letter: “Laudato Si ‘, on the care of our common home, “and were introduced about seven months ago in his new encyclical letter,”Fratelli Tutti: on fraternity and social friendship. “With these in the background like a mirror, one wonders what light is reflecting off the issues that seem to dominate the airwaves.
We now hear a lot of news about asylum seekers, especially children, who are involved in the US border crisis; brutal attacks on Asian Americans; Random Acts of Gun Violence Resulting in Many Deaths The encyclicals I have mentioned provide some assistance in the midst of these crises and the current pandemic.
As far as we can remember, there have been problems at the border – not caused by those seeking asylum, but perhaps by our outdated and inhumane policies that deny our common humanity. One thing is certain, there is an absence of human dignity at the border.
François helps us see that an “integral ecology calls for openness … which takes us to the heart of what it is to be human” (LS 11). Pope Francis reminds us of his spiritual namesake, Francis of Assisi, who spoke the language of brotherhood and beauty, and saw each creature as a sister or a brother.
If we lose this fraternal language, “our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on our immediate needs” (LS 11). We need to strengthen the belief that we are one human family. We are called to hear the cries of the earth and the cries of the poor.
Think about it: do I see people at the border as “throwaway” because they have a different language or color than mine? Do I see these individuals as “them”, coming here to take our work or bring illnesses, and not see them as brother and sister?
In Fratelli Tutti, Francis tells the timeless story we all know: the Good Samaritan. But now we are being seriously asked to make history. Take a few minutes and watch the border scenes, or other acts of violence flashing on your TV screen, and think, “Every day we have to decide whether we are to be Good Samaritans or indifferent spectators” (FT 69).
Will we be the one who passes, or will we be the one who stops to help? Cries – no matter who utters them – call us to leave our comfort zone, our clean, antiseptic way of life and respond to whoever is in need. Because it is the one who is in need or who is hurt that helps me see where I am in my spiritual growth.
Who can deny the screams of the last few weeks of black mothers, sisters and brothers, crying out because a loved one has been “executed”? They were bitten by what I call The white snake. Ah yes, our Easter lilies, still a little fresh and sounding the news of Life, are still threatened by this rare species, apparently protected in this country.
This serpent has traversed the fabric of our country since its inception. From the terrible lynchings and “barbecues” of those who threaten the snake, to more subtle and insidious “smoke-free” fires by certain forms of police in modern society. Oh, the serpent must be protected.
Ours is a paschal identity: the Blood which flows in the streets of America also announces with cries… do I hear it? It screams, and we say: We’re better than that, it’s not us.
Oh, but it’s us! It’s from the start! Let the screams pierce our deafness, remove our cataracts. Who are we? Who are we? Ours is a paschal identity “but these others…?
Precious body, precious blood of George Floyd… Have mercy on us.
Precious body, precious blood of Daunte White… Have mercy on us.
Precious body, precious blood of Adam Toledo… Have mercy on us.
Precious body, precious blood soaking in the fabric of this country… Be merciful to us.
If we listen and engage in dialogue with each other, maybe we will see that the white threat is better if it is tinted purple, reflecting a garment of diversity.
Oh yes, ours is a paschal identity…! And theirs?
May we see ourselves as those afflicted by the White snake see us … after all, the serpent can also be a sign of healing. Yes, may their precious blood and precious bodies be our source of liberation and peace, clothing us in the garment of the peaceful and diverse family of Isaiah 11. And the ugly bulbs of our Easter trumpets bloom after being buried for three. years … to announce and symbolize the resurrected life.
Maybe I can quote the Bible, talk about good books – but what about my actions? Do someone else’s cries disturb me enough to pray, advocate, and heal their wounds? If not, why not?
Recall Jesus’ preferential option for the poor, then ask our lawmakers to formulate just policies that seek to empower the less fortunate. The grief and pain of each of us is truly that of all of us – for we have only one common home and we are all connected; we are all brothers and sisters with one Father.
Are you, am I ready to be everyone’s neighbor? Read the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 29-37) and ask yourself how are you like each character? What can you do to help those fleeing unjust systems find a safe home to raise their children, have decent shelter, and gainful and fair employment? Reflecting on Luke 10 may well be a transformative time for us, a time that allows us to live and experience the joy of the gospel.
May the cries of Creation and of all creatures, and the wounds of suffering humanity, be conduits of grace to us and enable us to act to improve the lot of the less fortunate. May those at the frontiers of the world help us to recognize our common humanity: Fratelli Tutti.
The pandemic may have “locked up” us, but it has taught us a few lessons: we are all connected; my actions or their absence have an impact on your life; it is only together that we can mend the garment of humanity; and what we see playing daily on our television screens are appeals to be answered with charity. So let’s go ahead and make a difference! Let’s stop long enough to meet each other.