Recently, I came across a sermon that I wrote while pursuing graduate studies at the Aquinas Institute of Theology.
I gave this sermon at the opening convocation at the beginning of the academic year. In it, I noted the marvelous diversity among the student population at Aquinas. People from all over the United States and many other nations were represented. People from all walks of life, both lay and religious, Catholics and non-Catholics, women and men, some with few, some with many decades of life experience, gathered at Aquinas.
All of this wondrous diversity brought a terrific richness to our learning experience and to our prayer. The thoughts of each person were heard and respected and each was treated with the dignity befitting a child of God. Within all of this diversity, we celebrated that which united us — a deep hunger for the wisdom that comes as gift from the One who knows and loves us and a burning desire to come to know and love our God more fully in return.
My years at Aquinas were a graced time — Kingdom time, really — as we were joyfully united in our diversity and in our love for God.
I thought of my Aquinas experience with great longing as I sat with my daughter Saturday having lunch at the Galleria when suddenly dozens of protesters marched in. Carrying signs, beating drums and shouting demands for justice in light of the recent decision to acquit a former police officer in what was thought to be a racially motivated shooting, the protesters made quite a scene. Stores closed, people left in fear — and tears. News reports said 22 were arrested.
I do not have enough insight into this case to comment on whether the judge’s decision was right or wrong, but what I know and what I witnessed deeply saddens me. The chasm is deep that divides our nation — and indeed the world — along lines of race, gender, social-economic status, religious belief, national boundaries.
I long for the Kingdom time that I knew in the special world of Aquinas Institute. I long for a world where people listen to one another with respect, acknowledging that we may not always agree, but listening nonetheless. Focused on building relationships and finding solutions based on what unites us — our common humanity and our inherent dignity as beloved children of God.
May God give us the grace to see one another as He sees us, to listen and respond with respect, and to work tirelessly to build His Kingdom — a Kingdom where all are united in love, joy and peace.
Manager of Spiritual Care
HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital, Highland