Jesus teaches the disciples to pray the words of the Our Father, a prayer that unites all Christians of all churches. Two and a half Billion Christians pray this prayer that comes directly from Jesus. Powerful, indeed!!! Think about this every time you pray the words of the Our Father: over two billion people know this prayer and believe it’s words.
Of all the words spoken in the Our Father, the most challenging are: “your Kingdom come, your will be done.” It is God's will that we work tirelessly in making the Kingdom a lived reality. To do this, we must confront the realities that prevent the Kingdom from taking root, realities that begin in our own hearts: jealousy, self- centeredness, indifference, bigotry, self righteousness, and the list goes on.
As a society, how can the Kingdom take root when racism and bigotry in all forms, and are deeply rooted in the institutions that are the foundation of our culture: government, religious, business, education, health care and entertainment. Racism embedded and rooted in individual human hearts become a reality rooted in social structures. It all begins within our own individual hearts, deformed by racist attitudes handed down to us and finds expression on the outside through division and violence.
We all have to do what we can in making the Kingdom of Jesus a lived reality, a kingdom of truth and justice. We must first allow God’s Grace to change our own hearts. Before judging others' responses, judge your own hearts. How do we change other people’s hearts? By not yelling at them, calling them names, becoming self righteous. Judge the behavior and attitudes, not the person. Only God can handle the judgment that falls on the person.
We bring about the Kingdom by connecting ourselves to other communities of people who suffer the violence of racism. Encounter people who must live with racism every moment of their lives. Listen to them, forge new friendships. If I am white, educated and financially comfortable, if not affluent, I need to be very cautious in how I respond. In my last parish, an African American parish, struggling with racism in many forms, told me that the best way for me to “do something” would be to listen and not think that I can in any way be a savior. Jesus takes care of that.
Be active by listening and empowering others to take the lead.
We all need to do a lot of soul searching, looking at ourselves in the mirror and being brutally honest with what we see.