“Without justice there can be no peace.”
Pope Paul VI
Pentecost comes this year at a time when we are in great need of Spirit-wisdom and Spirit-courage. Jesus appears to his apostles who are locked away, living in fear that they too may lose their lives to the powers of their day. His words, “Peace I leave with you.” are the words we need desperately to hear today.
We hear those words today with the backdrop of a violent pandemic that has killed over 103,000 people in the United States, and the understanding that this ruthless killer will kill many more.
With the brutal murders of George Floyd, Brenna Taylor, and Ahmad Arbery we face a 400-year-old virus of hatred and systemic racism that continues to kill and infect every institution. The seeds of racism are buried deep, watered by ignorance, power and indifference. The challenge of what one person can do in the midst of racism and the violence erupting in our cities seems overwhelming. We need the peace that Jesus offers as we watch our cities burn, buildings destroyed, businesses trying to recover from the pandemic, looted. We grasp for the peace promised by Jesus.
Helping us on Pentecost are the words from Acts of those filled with the Holy Spirit speaking in many languages yet being understood.
Can we truly hear the experiences of our African American brothers and sisters …of being followed in a department store in the event they may shoplift, being stopped by the police because they are driving in the “wrong neighborhood” or losing a son to gun violence? Can we understand the anger that expresses the frustration of not being respected? Can we hear the pain of African Americans who have lost loved ones at a disproportionate rate to COVID-19 because of limited access to quality health care? Can we hear the language of African Americans whose voting rights are systematically being weakened?
The Spirit has given us the wisdom to hear with our ears, our hearts and our conscience. Our job is to listen, to act with the confidence that one person, one community can make a difference.
It is time for history to stop repeating itself.