This has been a tense week for many around the country. I, like many of you, have been waiting for the verdict of the Derek Chauvin Case. As you remember, he is the police officer accused of killing George Floyd. In a statement sent early on 4/20, Bishop Doyle stated, “The verdict will reveal much about who we are and what we believe is acceptable force against one another.” Of course, by the afternoon of April 20, we all learned that Mr. Chauvin was found guilty. Although this verdict does not return George Floyd to his family, I pray that this verdict will lessen the racial tensions in our country in the next few days and weeks.
Bishop Doyle reminded us in his statement that this is not the first trial we have seen lately. Sadly, there are other names of victims and other grieving families for whom we must pray this week. “Whom shall we name? Duante Wright, Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Matthew Dean, Jamee Johnson, Botham Shem Jean, E. J. Bradford, Antwon Rose, and Adam Toledo. Who else might we name?”
I am praying that believers everywhere may see what is happening in our society as a deeply theological and spiritual issue. It is time for all of us to discover a theology that is deeply rooted in creation. Simply said, God creates humanity in his image, which means that all humans in every age, every culture, and every tribe bear the imprint of our maker in our souls. In fact, I believe the entire creation bears the divine mark of its creator. Psalm 8: 4-8 puts it this way (the plurals are mine,) “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you have set in their courses, what are humans that you should be mindful of us? The children of humans that you should seek us out? You have made us but little lower than the angels; you adorn us with glory and honor; you give us mastery over the works of your hands; you put all things under our feet.” Psalm 82:6 goes even further, "Now I say to you, ‘You are gods, and all of you children of the Most High.”
Father Richard Rohr says that “God loves matter by becoming matter.” This is another way of saying what the Psalms are telling us. All humans are created to reflect the image of the creator God, which means that we all share in the Divine image and we too are the “Imago Dei” or the face of God. To believe that the image of God exists only in people of a certain color, nationality, or gender identity is to call God a liar. It is to oppose his holy Word and to create divisions that oppose Scripture’s creation theology. There is no difference between Black and White, male and female, or rich and poor. We are all created out of love and we are all our brothers and our sisters’ keepers. I agree with our Bishop when he says, “The sin of racism is a very real burden for our American society. It is writ large at moments like this. We cannot shy away from reform and our work that remains before us.”
God loves humanity so much that he himself broke into our world and took on flesh. Rather than saving us in some extraordinary way, God chooses to become a fragile, innocent, and dependent baby to save us from within. His incarnation tells the world that the Creator is not done creating. In his Christ, God breathes new life into people everywhere. Christ’s incarnation ends the gap of separation between the sacred and the profane. It builds a bridge between realities separated by the effect of human sin. Now, we are surrounded by the Divine presence, which has become the “All in All” of the prophets. We are surrounded by divinity and every human face, regardless of color of skin, shows us God’s own face. Our dignity as children of God rests in the fact that each of us is precious in God’s sight. We must train our eyes to see Christ in every person we encounter.
Can you imagine what kind of a world we would have if we all saw Christ in our brothers and sisters? Well, this is the invitation of the Easter Season. Christ is risen, which means that he lives in and among us. Why then do we act as orphaned children? Why then do we refuse to claim the universal sisterhood and brotherhood into which Christ calls us through his resurrection? How much longer can we treat others as the children of a different father when Scripture tells us we are all children of God?
I find myself praying for all victims of racism today, but I also pray for all the perpetrators of hateful actions against those they see as “The Other.”
Please join me in praying for peace and please pledge with me to become instruments of God’s peace in our own towns, cities, and state.
May God continue to bless you,