What is this world coming to?
Death and destruction. War and terror. Burning, pillaging, genocide, ethnic cleansing. Hatred and injustice. Racism, homophobia, sexism. Poverty and illness. Shortage of food, dirty water, lack of medicine, expensive drugs.
The question above surfaces for many of us frequently. Although we may not be able to articulate such, it seems never far from memory, etched solidly in our unconscious. The world today does present challenges, there is no denying that. Where there is fear, however, there is opportunity. Where there exists atrocities and violence, there can be birthed peace and healing. Behind all sin and shortcomings their exists a proportionate grace and invitation.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Yet, as this week alone reminded me, there is reason to celebrate the “proportionate grace and invitation” behind the doors of violence and injustice.
1) Martin Luther King, Jr. was honored on Monday. His witness to nonviolence and steadfast support of equal rights for all inspires us today. The Six Principles of Nonviolence is only one of his legacies: nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people, seeks to win friendship and understanding, seeks to defeat injustice not people, holds that suffering can educate and transform, chooses love instead of hate, and believes that the universe is on the side of justice.
2) Barack Obama was inaugurated the 44th President of the United States of America. While his legacy is yet to be determined, a new day has seemed to sweep across the country, valuing openness and respect, competence and integrity, unity and purpose. His presidency is no small feat. It’s one of those breakthrough moments, re-routing our collective expectation and energy for the future.
3) This Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the proclamation for Vatican II by John Paul XXIII. A renewed, excited, and enlivened Church emerged. It is still giving birth to many fruits, as it continues to open up faith, spirituality, and theology for many, providing access and invitation to being Church. No longer can we pit grace against human nature, religious against lay, or understand sacrifice as salvation – it’s instead provoked new questions, visions of a just Church and truly compassionate God.
The challenges are many and the load we bear is not light. The examples above demonstrate that these are burdens carried together, and although progress may not come as fast or furious as we would like, embodied leaders and movements of change do happen. This week is living proof. From this perspective, the world points to renewal and wholeness.