Earlier in the week I shared a version of the song Color of the Wind from Disney’s adaptation of the story Pocahontas. The lyrics spoke to me very deeply and I could not shake it. They speak of the need for us to embrace diversity and equality of all people, not just the people like us. This is what we are trying to do at Saint Francis. Here are those lines from Color of the Wind:
You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew
As we remember today the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, a martyr and saint, these lines seem even more apt. Far too often we treat people who are different than we are as less than human. We refuse to see them as beloved children of God.
However, we each hold a spark of the Divine within us. It was given us when we drew our first breath and it stays with us until we breathe our last breath. And each of us has it! Religious affiliation, race, gender identity and/or expression, sexual orientation and/or identity, social status, financial status does not remove that spark of the Divine.
Dr. King worked his whole life promoting the idea that we are all children of God. And for his efforts, he became a martyr. He knew that this was a possibility. The idea that someone might find his message to be so foreign that they felt the need to kill him weighed on him daily. But it did not silence him. Rather, he used it to embolden his spirit to speak out against injustice and to fight for equality.
Standing 51 years after the death of Dr. King, I look back at his messages and his work and wonder how he would view us today. Have we made the world a better place in the last 51 years? Are people more equal today than they were 51 year ago?
I believe that we have made some progress, but we still have much work to do. The resurgence of racism and bigotry should be the death throws of an archaic way of thinking. The work to segregate society and to make people less than others should be thrown on the trash heap of history. And churches or pastor’s who promote these backward beliefs should join them in the trash.
I said on Sunday that if we want to be real Christians then we need to “smell like shit”. What I meant by that was that we needed to go out and embrace all people. We should especially embrace those we consider “smelly or dirty”. It is commanded of us to embrace all people and to acknowledge the “spark of the Divine” in them. How we treat others is how we treat God!
I am asking you today to join me, join Saint Francis as we work to reach out to EVERYONE. Help us embrace all people and to honor the spark of the Divine in them. Come and be part of building a parish that loves and respects all people.
Come live a different way of being Catholic!