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What the world needs now

 

A friend shared a news story recently about the horrific double murders of a young couple. Both also suffered degradation, rape, and mutilation. Another friend shared more terror, of a mother who willingly allowed her child to be abused in a way I cannot comprehend and won’t describe; the woman also willingly witnessed the abuse. These stories and others make me feel physically ill, and I want to cry. Even writing about this sickens me, to think that human beings can willingly perpetrate such evil and subject other living beings to such horror and pain.

Perhaps some of the people in this past Sunday’s Mass reading from the Old Testament were engaging in similar evils. In Genesis, chapter 18, The Lord tells Abraham that the sins of the Cities of the Plain are so grave and the outcry against them so great, that He plans to destroy them, to wipe the evil off the face of the earth.

Abraham pleads with God to withhold his might, if only 50 -- no, 45; no, 20; whittling the number to only 10 -- innocent people are found there. The Lord agrees. But only one just man and his family are to be found; everyone else has succumbed, in some way, to evil. The cities are destroyed, with but one man and his family spared.

Is this how our own world can be viewed now?

Is the outcry against the evil sufficient that the Lord will intervene? If so, will he find enough just, innocent people to consider sparing us from total destruction?

Or will he look on what people are doing to each other and determine that all have succumbed, in some way, to evil?

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

Where are the good people? Is there no one left to seek justice for those who have suffered? Is there no one who will speak on behalf of the weak?

A friend often speaks out, sharing the church’s views on current events, or the biblical standpoint on issues. His wife worries that his being vocal will make them both targets, and could damage business or community relationships. While tempering how and when he shares his views, he also says he cannot stand by without speaking the truth, that silence is viewed as agreement.

Silence, in such cases, is not golden.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (attributed to Edmund Burke)

Jesus called us to love one another. There’s a reason for that. When you love others, it’s almost impossible to wish them ill or hurt them. When you love, you desire the best for others; you work for good, to make things better.

Yes, evil exists. And yes, it is present among us. But what may be more telling is what’s absent. Love. Perhaps that’s what happened in the Cities of the Plain. And perhaps it’s what’s happening in our world today.

We are called to love. We are called to be love for a world in need, for a world in pain.

It’s not easy. It’s a path that almost guarantees rejection, ostracism, doubt. Our motives will be questioned; so will our sanity. But it’s the right path. It’s the only path, if we hope to avoid humanity annihilating itself, mired in hate and sin.

Courage is needed to stand up for justice, for right, to stand against evil and wrong.

Someone has to stand up for what is good and right. Will it be me and you?

“If not now, when? If not you, who?” (Hillel the Elder)

“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love” (1 Cor. 16:13-14).

Grow in love and courage with the parishioners of St. Ann Catholic Church. Masses are at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays, and Sundays at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon (Spanish), and 5:30 p.m. Visit www.stannslv.org for more information.

 
 
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