By Frank Lesko, Coordinator of Justice and Peace
Today’s readings are both simple and extraordinary. “God is love” is declared like a trumpet blast from 1 John. Jesus commands us to “love one another” in the Gospel. Before we start thinking that this love is just for an exclusive club, the Psalm assures us that this love radiates to all nations, all people. Peter is clear in the first reading that it is his status as a human being, and not his religious affiliation, on which his natural dignity rests. God is available to all, and we are called to extend our love to all.
One thing I always find amazing is that Jesus tells us what to do, but he never tells us how to do it. Love one another. It is up to us to continually pray about it, talk about it and think about it. We can look to the vast heritage of saints, scholars and servants who have come before us as witnesses and role models. Having a list of things to do would be too easy. We could just check off items without putting any attention on the matter. Instead, we are to pour our entire being into the task. Mind, body and soul, we are to work at it, sweat at it, even bleed for it.
We are to use all of our God-given gifts for this purpose. Our Catholic tradition reminds us of the strong role that the arts play in opening ourselves up to this task. Nearly every successful movement for social change has cultivated a strong relationship with the arts. Consider Picasso’s screams from Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, the all-too-true photography of the Vietnam War and the protest songs of the Civil Rights marches of the 60s. The arts and justice go hand in hand.
Here at St. Francis, we use the arts to inspire us to love one another. We do this through Justice Theater Project on a regular basis, and next week we have a special opportunity to welcome Dr. Adelfattah Abusrour from Palestine. What could be a more difficult place to love one another than in the current struggles between Israel and Palestine?
Dr. Abusrour has founded a world-renowned cultural arts center that has been a ray of hope. Through the theater, dance and music, he helps children express and affirm their human dignity in a land of violence. He will be speaking in the Founders room at 7:00 PM on Thursday, May 17. Whether you are interested in the fine arts, justice in the Holy Land, or just want to explore ways of following Jesus’ call to love, there is something here for you!