Father Manny Reflects: Black History Month, “The Help,” And Injustice

Listen, children, to Simon the Cyrenian

“He never spoke a word to me,
And yet He called my name;
He never gave a sign to me,
And yet I knew and came.

At first I said, “I will not bear
His cross upon my back;
He only seeks to place it there
Because my skin is black.”

But He was dying for a dream,
And He was very meek,
And in His eyes there shone a gleam
Men journey far to seek.

It was Himself my pity bought;
I did for Christ alone
What all of Rome could not have wrought
With bruise of lash or stone.”

(Countee Cullen, an African-American writer, was born in 1903 in New York City and raised in a Methodist parsonage. He graduated from New York University in 1923 and later attended Harvard University. He died in 1946 at the age of 43)

The other night, Douglas and I watched The Help. The movie was amazing. It brought me to tears. I found myself frustrated, angry and bitterly disappointed in the manner in which some people treat one another. Blessedly, the movie also brought a smile to my face and opportunity for laughter, too. If you haven’t seen the movie, please do so. I’m determined to read the book…

February is Black History Month. Our country affords us this month-long memorial and tribute to better understand and appreciate the contributions of the African-American community. All of us must take the time to reflect and consider the struggles of so many of our sisters and brothers. The fight was and continues to be for full and unconditional freedom from prejudice and discrimination: to be members of a country that values and practices full equality for all; to receive the same rights and protection afforded to other citizens and to be valued, appreciated and shown respect and uphold the dignity of all. The struggle continues. Sadly, in some parts of this country, people of color are still discriminated against. The same, sad story can be said of gays and lesbians, of women, of the elderly and the physically and mentally challenged.

Amazing, isn’t it, that God created us equal and in His image and some of God’s own children can make such negative and disparaging distinctions. Human kind is not a perfect creature. We have a ways to go and still, we shall never reach perfection, at least not in this life time. And that is our human fate. Our perfection is to be attained when we enter into our eternal reward, when we are welcomed to Paradise and see our God, face to face.

Until that time, we must all continue in our efforts of bringing about a more perfect community; locally, nationally and universally. This is a daunting task, indeed. Fortunately, God gives us the grace to see ourselves free from hatred; the patience to endure the trials and tribulations that undoubtedly find their way into our lives and cross our paths; the love to embrace all of God’s children as our sisters and brothers; and the faith that provides us strength and endurance in all our struggles and human endeavors. I’d like to think and I do believe that God has great confidence in us. After all, God gave us Jesus, fully divine, yet in full human form, to teach us how to live with one another, how to forgive one another, how to rise above the negativity and conform only to what is good and righteous. We have faith and confidence in God and that is the finest and most appropriate starting point. Let us all have confidence and believe in the gifts and attributes of all God’s children, our sisters and brothers in faith. Let us put our efforts in building up and not tearing down. Speak out against discrimination…silence is a passive form of agreement and none of us should ever stand for that. Like Simon the Cyrenian, mentioned in the beautiful poem above, let us come to the aid of those in need; let us serve those who seek assistance; let us be Christ-like and Simon-like to one another.

Look at the character of each person and see the value, the giftedness and the beauty that exists within. Remember, others are looking at us…do unto them as we would have done unto us! Love. Forgive. Teach. Lead. Console. Guide. Direct. Embrace. Laugh. Live…and this is what we are called to do every moment of every day. Smile, my friends, Jesus is with us and oh, what a friend we do have in Him.

via News from St. Nicholas Episcopal Church



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