Martin Luther King

I cannot believe that fifty years have passed since our nation lost one of her greatest sons. Last week we remembered Martin Luther King Jr. Thanks to his tireless efforts not only African Americans have seen a new day. The whole nation has been transformed and a radical consciousness has been awakened regarding the fundamental dignity of every person.

 It was destiny that enlisted him to become the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. As a result he had to pay a huge personal price – his own life. A Baptist preacher by calling, King was not the one to give birth to the movement. Rosa Parks triggered the anger of a people by her simple refusal to give up her seat on a bus. King was asked to channel the energy of the African Americans who had been waiting to claim their God-given rights.

We cannot understand the condition of the oppressed until we experience discrimination firsthand. Growing up Catholic in a predominantly Hindu nation, I developed a sense of what it means to be a minority. The caste system so deeply entrenched in the Indian society allowed so many acts of blatant discrimination that made me question my culture. It is within those circumstances that I developed a deep admiration for Martin Luther King. My admiration grew even greater because this Baptist preacher brought his understanding of Jesus’ message to dialogue with the non-violent strategies of Mahatma Gandhi. As a student of his many sermons, I am struck by his commitment to peaceful ways to achieve equality for the oppressed. 

Merely adhering to the expectations of political correctness does not eradicate racism or other forms of discrimination. We need to look into our hearts and souls and sincerely ask ourselves whether we consider every human being to be worthy of dignity and respect. Jesus said, “What makes a man unclean is what comes out of him. It is not what goes into him.” In other words, Jesus tells us that we need to monitor the way we think. Every now and then a politician is caught off guard because there was a hot microphone. He said something that was derogatory and the media take him to task for his unfortunate remarks. The problem is not that he said something. The real issue is that he thought about someone in a certain way. It is not enough to monitor our words. We need to dig deeper and ensure that we truly think of everyone as our equals, worthy of our genuine respect.

We respect every human person not because discrimination is unacceptable in polite society. We do it not because our Constitution declares that “all men are created equal.” We extend our total respect to everyone because every human being – with absolutely no exceptions – is created in the image and likeness of God Himself. Moreover, Jesus has categorically stated: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do it to Me.” Our motivations for rooting out every form of discrimination are pure and simple, and they spring from our Christian faith.

Even fifty years after his death, his message rings true today. Our tendency to discriminate and to exclude is deeply rooted in our human nature. We would like to decide who does and does not deserve our respect and love. Grace embraces but sin pushes people away. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges every disciple to love perfectly just as the Father loves. Just as the Father makes the sun shine on the just and the unjust, we cannot exclude anyone; we cannot discriminate against anyone. No one should be denied their civil rights because of whatever reason. Unfortunately the dream of Dr King is not yet a reality. 

We will do well to bear in mind what Dr King wrote in 1963: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

As we remember Martin Luther King and his unique legacy, let us continue our struggle on behalf of our African American brothers and sisters. Let us join hands with all those who champion the rights of everyone under any kind of oppression or discrimination. At the same time, let us implore the Father that all of God’s children will learn to respect, support and love one another.

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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Phone: (847) 825-7605

Mass Schedule

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8:30 am - Upper Church


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10:30 am - Upper Church

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