Posted on Thu, Jan 22, 2015
Courtesy of "Whispers in the Loggia"
Over the course of the Christmas holidays, many people went to Heinz Hall to see the Broadway production titled “Motown the Musical.” For those of you who were teenagers in the 1950s and ‘60s, you know that Motown characterized a genre of music that became as revolutionary to the music scene as was Elvis Presley and the Beatles. The Motown sound became famous with the music of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Temptations, the Marvelettes, the Jackson 5 and — perhaps the headliner of Motown’s success — Diana Ross and the Supremes.
If you were lucky enough to see this production in our fair city, and if you are familiar with Motown music, the show was an exciting three hours of toe-tapping, singing along and reminiscing on that era in our country.
Having had the opportunity to see the play, one of the high points for me spotlighted the hit by the Supremes, “Stop in the Name of Love!”
That particular song has been replaying over and over in my mind as I think about the current events not only in our country but in our world.
It has been a brutal past few months. Communities have been on edge. The divisions that persist among us have been exacerbated: divisions between police and the people they are supposed to protect; divisions between political leaders and those they are supposed to lead; and, yes, divisions between black and white. “STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE!”
In many communities, we can too easily find a lack of trust and the conviction that racism — the original sin of our nation — refuses to go away. Sure, we have made strides. But anyone who believes that it has gone just isn’t paying attention. Racism is a persistent evil that spreads everywhere in society. “STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE!”
All lives matter
The anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision is fast approaching. That decision mandating the legalization of abortion is rooted in the same dangerous thought from which racism emerges — that all lives are not created equal; that there are lives less worthy than others; that some lives are inherently less deserving to live than others. The principles that underlie legalized abortion are no different than the principles that underlie racism. “STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE!”
As Catholics, if there is a banner we want to carry it would read that all lives matter. The sick, the aged, the unborn — they all matter without reference to their utility, their heritage or their skin color. “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. prayed.
The evils we have to fight are racism, poverty, violence and the horrid concept that killing — as we saw just saw in Paris — is a legitimate means to address our grievances and somehow solve our problems. “STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE!”
We are blessed with law enforcement, police women and men who risk their lives every day to try to make our neighborhoods into places where you and I can walk out the door and not be afraid. I have spoken with the wives and husbands of these brave men and women who have shared their fears with me. They know — as we all know — that any day or night that they leave their homes to serve that there is a chance they may never come back. We have seen that horror in Pittsburgh too often. “STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE!”
Let’s stop bigotry of any sort. Let’s stop tearing each other down as we tear each other apart. Let’s commit ourselves to stopping the violence of our times by rededicating ourselves to the simple but profound belief that every life is sacred, and that every one of us wishes to be judged by the content of our character. “STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE!”
We can see that ethnic, racial and, yes, religious violence — or violence under the guise of religion — is on the rise in our world. But that cannot be our story. We must resist to see difference as a threat; we must refuse to take part in bullying of any brand; we must resist to live by any prejudices; we must refuse to compromise life; we must resist to water down the dignity of life; we must refuse to undervalue the sacredness of life. “STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE!”
Reach across the barriers
Love is always the way forward. That is the devotion we want to bring to our daily life.
Our universal story that we just celebrated less than a month ago is how God came into our world so that we would be reconciled to God and one another. That is the mission of Jesus Christ and that is our mission: to foster reconciliation, to span the gulf of all that divides us.
We who live in the City of Bridges must become bridges by living our faith.
We are The Church Alive!
We are The Church Sharing!
We are The Church Evangelizing!
We are The Church Reconciling!
We are The Church Merciful!
This is what our Holy Father, Pope Francis, calls us to every day. We must reach across the barriers and suspicions that divide us. We must discover the person on the other side, every other person across from us. And most of all, we can never justify the taking of an innocent life. We can never excuse it; we can never accept it.
Here’s what we can do now, in our pews, in our parishes and in our homes. We can pray. We can pray for peace. We can pray for those who feel disenfranchised. We can pray for police who serve us. We can pray for an end to racism.
And then act lovingly on our prayer.
We can be bridge builders, listening and learning from those who bring a different perspective than our own.
We must respect life. Every human life.
That’s what we must devote ourselves to doing every day. It’s time. It’s time to stop the evil of division among and between us.
Yep! The Supremes were right: “STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE!”