Posts Tagged ‘Christians’

Would the United States be a better country if everyone spoke only one language, English? Would we coexist more comfortably if everyone erased their cultural differences and became “American?” These questions, in one way or another, are being answered through various behaviors and legal rulings that lack any positive merit. We have come to the point where we no longer want to be a “melting pot” of  immigrants, we have people demanding that only English should be taught in the schools, and we verbally assault people from other cultures because their differences make us feel fear.

Yes, we need a common language to communicate with each other and in the United States that is English. However, taking a page from the playbook of the Catholic Church, Masses and books are in the country’s language while Latin remains the Universal Church language. Instead of creating divisions, retaining the mother tongue of each country creates solidarity in each unique culture and helps people understand the Lord’s teachings better.

Last week Christianity celebrated Pentecost. According to the New Testament, this was the event where the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles (after Jesus’ resurrection) and not only strengthened them for their ensuing mission to spread the Good Word but also gave them the gift of tongues.

Addressing the issue of diversity, and using Pentecost and the early Christians as examples, here are some quotes from Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin that he made to the archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey (a very culturally diverse archdiocese!) after he became the Archbishop on November 7, 2016:

“On the day of Pentecost, people from many lands heard the Good News proclaimed by the               apostles, each in his or her own language…There is no evidence that the response of faith erased             the  richness of culture. The Parthians, Medes, Elemites and all those other tongue twisting                       nationalities did not ‘melt’ into some celestial ‘pot.’ The first Christians retained their cultures, while         discovering a principle of unity. This principle is nothing less than the Holy Spirit.”

“I grew up in a multicultural neighborhood of southwest Detroit. I was a little jealous of                        classmates who went home and spoke a different language, ate different food, thought differently.          My service of the Church obliged me to live many years in cultures different from my Irish-                        American  family. So I am excited to lead an archdiocese where the Eucharist is celebrated in 20                languages.” (New Jersey Catholic Jan/Feb 2017 p5)

What we need now, in the 21st century, is not a gift of tongues but an ability to accept all the different “tongues” that are spoken by our diverse citizenship. Being different in language and culture, is after all, what the United States was and still is all about. Writing this on Memorial Day, a day when we remember that people of different colors, cultures, and languages fought and died to keep our great nation free, I can only pray that the Holy Spirit will once again descend and inspire us to accept with an open heart EVERYONE who lives in this great country. Even if they don’t speak English!

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Joy, happiness, merriment, celebration, we are deep in a season where positive upbeat words permeate our songs, greetings, and commercials. So what is wrong with this picture? A virus of evil has infected us. Racism, intolerance and nastiness, aka adult bullying, has become a daily occurrence.

From Thanksgiving through New Year’s day, Christians, Jews, and African Americans will be celebrating a season of light amidst the darkness of Winter. Yes, even non-believers and atheists join in celebrating the good in people, the joy in a world all a sparkle.

When towns light their holiday trees, the only word to describe it is joyous – just look into the children’s faces as they anticipate meeting Santa! But elsewhere, in those same towns, dark words fly from the mouths of dark souls. Their hearts have been corrupted not by a President-elect’s words but by their own need to destroy what is good in human relations. Every woman in a hajib is a terrorist, every African American is dangerous, every Hispanic is illegal, and every police officer is out to get you. Toxic words turn to toxic actions and snuff out the candles of light.

So we must sing the songs of goodness louder, we must open dialogue with those different from us, if we believe in God we must pray for tolerance to reign. Our actions during this season must move us into that space where the greatest gift we can give another human being is love. Yes, the word that matters the most, not just in December but all year long.