Just before the time set aside to write this book, I fell in a state park while hiking with friends. I was elated at first that no bones appeared to be broken. Since travel has been the major constant in my life for two decades, I pictured in that first second of the fall how impossible it would be if my arms, wrists, or legs were splintered.
The US Department of Justice reports that one in three black American men can expect to go to prison in his lifetime. One in three: the same proportion as suffer hair loss or weight gain.
The same ratio as those who have insomnia or develop diabetes. One in three. It’s hard to imagine that this stark fact is a fluke rather than a symptom of a larger problem. How can we begin to address the inequalities at the root of this issue? Some have taken the divide-and-conquer approach, and are rallying against one aspect of the racism still endemic in our
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” he said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”’” The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover. —Matthew 26:17–19
It had become almost a habit. I would see a street person asking for money, roll down the car window, and hand him or her a couple of dollars. Then I would drive away, feeling good about myself as the words of Jesus played in my head: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat, thirsty and you gave me to drink.” As I handed my meager donation to the person in need, I would often imagine Jesus standing in place of the person. After all, it was Jesus who said, “What you do for the least of my brothers you do for me.” However, it was only after a close family member, Gary, fell on hard times and became homeless that I began to see street people in a whole new light. Witnessing firsthand the downward spiral of the life of someone I knew and loved opened my eyes to a deeper understanding of the words of Jesus.
Sharon was a 19-year-old runaway on a New York City subway when a man approached her, offering to buy her food and clean clothes. He lured the young woman into his apartment where he beat her, she reported to ACT (Abolish Child Trafficking). So began Sharon’s “career” as a sex worker. She and her trafficker would travel to various cities, work the streets for a few weeks, and then move on. Other girls who escaped were recaptured and never seen again.
I have a confession to make: I haven’t been to Confession in 30 years. And it isn’t from a lack of respect for the sacrament. It isn’t out of pride. I’m just chicken. My last foray into Reconciliation is still etched in my mind: Standing outside the confessional, I was a panicked 11-year-old—hands sweating, head spinning, legs shaking in my gray corduroys. The priest grew irritated quickly. Little wonder: I could barely spit out a sentence. The act of pleading guilty to my crimes was just too awkward, too daunting. So I never went back.
You may recall Pope Francis’ statement a couple of years ago concerning God’s love. First, the pope said: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! Even the atheists. Everyone!” That statement shook a lot of people up. And it is true: the Church has always taught that Jesus died and redeemed all of God’s children. But a lot of people drew several incorrect conclusions: “Well, if atheists are redeemed, it really doesn’t matter what we do, right? We’re home free.”
Starting this week, Catholic schools across the country will celebrate their unique identity and mission during Catholic Schools Week. The purpose, according to the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), is to “focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our Church, our communities, and our nation.” Statistics, however, are showing that many families are choosing to send their kids to public schools instead of their local Catholic schools.
“Who is my neighbor?” That question is perhaps the most provocative one in all the Gospels (Lk 10:29ff). Jesus answers his wise inquisitor with a parable. It begins: “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.”We have seen as much in Syria over the past 4½ years. Robbers—the Islamic State and opposing Syrian-government force—came into their cities, towns, and homes and attacked them, one way or another.