Loving heart to heart

The killing of George Floyd, the righteous anger, the protests against allowing whatever caused this awful murder to stand, the dark forces of opportunistic riots and looting, the hatred and loathing — it all makes me so sad, Father.

Where are You in all this?

How did we get here? What now? What can we do? What can I do?

You’ve placed several suggestions along my way in the last few days:

o Find ways to bridge the divide, to walk with others, to listen, and to help them carry their crosses;

o Erase the margins separating us from those other ones that You love, Holy Father;

o Stand in awe of their strength, not in judgement of the burdens they carry;

o Focus not on how awful things are, but on how I can help make things better for just one other of these other ones;

o Learn to feel a deepening sense of gratitude for the gifts and graces You’ve already given us — by way of our birth, of our country, of our neighborhood, of our circumstance — gifts we did not earn or deserve, and through this;

o Strengthen our conviction to share these gifts to help others where they are right now…where we are right now;

And what about all the government programs created to help people less fortunate, families in need, the homeless, the addicted, those living in alone and in fear, those living without hope?

Help me to remember that government can never be the whole solution. Well-intended social aid is both a demonstration and a reminder of the generous spirit of this country, an example of what we want to stand for as a nation.

But the exchange, too often, tarnishes the mutual love of a gift freely given and graciously received. Maybe not always, but too often — and almost by its nature — such public aid preempts heart touching heart. The personal charity that blesses both the giver and recipient, too often, goes missing. And in our increasingly secularized world, aid programs erect a barriers between giver and recipient. Instead of love offered, love returned, love passed on to others, we are left with a cold, dehumanizing transaction where the dignity of the recipient is stripped, the giver feels extorted and coerced, and the life-giving breath of God’s grace is choked out.

Without Your participation, Holy Lord, evil enters and upends the beauty of our intent. More and more fingers of corruption and agents of self-dealing insinuate themselves, stealing the essence of the gifts and passing on only foul, despoiled remnants of Your original love.

And the demons dance with glee. As they sew chaos and confusion on our streets, disdain and division into the hearts of Your innocent, unsuspecting ones, they delight in our impotence and misunderstanding.

We need You, Holy Father. I pray that You send Your firm, but gentle touch to heal us, Your steady hand to guide us. Send us, I pray, the healing light of Your love. Make it shine so brightly in our world that evil quivers in submission, releases its hold on us, and yields way to Your hegemony. Oh Lord of all things, unite us into one body, one love, in and through Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lived and died that we might live in the fullness of Your glory.

In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.

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