We should know by now from past experience, whatever evil we ignore metastasizes. We’ve seen it with the sex abuse scandals in the Church; we’ve seen it with the “Me Too” movement across industries, we’ve seen it play out within police forces across the country, and it is true about racism.
Whatever evil we ignore is wrongfully deemed permissible. Whatever is permissible then expands out to take more liberty. Predispositions become presumptions; presumptions, assumptions; assumptions the cause of aggressive actions; aggressive actions become acceptable, and thus abuse wrongfully becomes acceptable, and thus ignored, excused, and exonerated.
If we learn anything from the year of 2020, let us learn to see clearly, that evil must be opposed. It cannot be excused. It cannot be ignored. It cannot be rationalized, and it is an injustice to both the society at large, and an injustice to the victims and to the individual permitted to persist in doing evil.
Indifference to bad actions is a failure to love the person doing wrong, and the one wronged sufficiently to risk anything that would upset one’s own comfort.
There could have been many more good police officers, if more police officers had been great.
There could have been many more people of faith, if more of the people of faith who led them lived lives of integrity.
There could have been more justice, if more people recognized injustice and stopped it in the moment.
Every example we find where sin was allowed to fester and grow, leaves a destructive wake of injured souls and a society sharpened and angry and full of edges, rather than the good fruits that grace brings.
How do we begin the process of seeing clearly? Of becoming people of integrity? Of becoming more like the people God called us, made us, and graced us with the opportunity to be?
First, we seek truth in all things, unflinchingly. It means we stop trying to argue the point (whatever the point is), and begin acknowledging things are not what they should or could be, and that getting closer to the objective or ideal will require being truthful about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we want to go. We need to be asking, “How can we be more just? How can we be more holy? What must we do?” rather than spending any energy justifying all the good we may have done, or explaining why what is needed not be ever changed or addressed.
Second, we must be ready and willing to sacrifice, to put in our own widow’s mite, investing in hope and the future we desire. It may be time, it may be treasure, it may be both, but it must begin. Pope Francis recently started the ‘Jesus the Divine Worker’ Fund, to recall “the dignity of work.”
The 1 million euros will go to the Diocese of Rome’s charitable organization, Caritas, and is intended to help those who are most gravely impacted economically because of the coronavirus and the measures put in place to control its spread. Some commentary under the article indicated people neither rejoiced at the idea of providing relief to some, nor thought much of the gesture. Neither response reveals hearts for love alone.
If one sees a wrong, one should begin the process of righting it. It is not that we must instantly solve all problems, but that we are obligated to work in the vineyard the moment we recognize that we have been called, and we all have been called.
Either contribute to what is in place, or start a process to aid those not yet helped or able to be helped in such a fashion. If we are not yet giving to aid the recovery of our brothers and sisters that we do see, we are saying “Who is my brother?” and not following Christ’s example or instruction by our actions.
Third, we must exercise forbearance toward all. There are some who still do not see, some who still do not hear the cries of the poor or understand that our obligations to each other are our obligations to Christ. No injustice ever exceeded what was done to our Lord by us when we shouted, “Crucify Him” and had him scourged, crowned with thorns, and mocked him as he carried our burdens up to Golgotha. No evil was greater than our reveling at the crucifixion of Jesus, and yet all the evils we do by our actions and inactions, by our words or our silence, echo the crucifixion and all of Christ’s passion. Christ cried out, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” and thus we can be no less charitable as we work to help bring every soul we encounter closer to Christ.
It is not a formula for a utopia, it is the process of living as we were created to be. It is not a recipe for perfection. It is the path of being perfected. The world needs all the graces and gifts we’ve been equipped with for this time, and God has created us for the trials of today. That reality is a great comfort, to know God loves us still despite all we’ve done and not done, and still invites us to be part of what restores and repairs His world, even as we’ve been the ones who ignored or damaged it.
(Sherry Antonetti is an author, freelancer and blogger.)
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