Yesterday the Roman Catholic Church remembered Maximilian Kolbe. He was a Franciscan priest from Poland who lost his life on August 14, 1941, when he offered to take the place of a stranger at Auschwitz. We also commemorated the life of Jonathan Myrick Daniels in the Episcopal Church's calendar. He was a seminary student who died on August 20, 1965 when he stepped in front of an African American teenager as a man was attempting to shoot her.
Today we continue to mourn Heather Heyer, a young woman who was killed on Saturday while she participated in a peaceful protest against racial hatred.
"There are many things I would die for, but none I would kill for." This is supposedly a quote from Gandhi, or maybe Camus, the Internet cannot decide. But it has made me wonder if this is true for me. Would I be so firm in my convictions that I would give my very life? Am I so committed to peace that I would stand in the path of violence to demonstrate that? Honestly, despite my faith, I am not sure. Which is just one reason I am so indebted to those who have.
The past few days in our country have shown us again how closely we live with darkness, with evil. And we have been asked repeatedly to account for ourselves, our response of faith, those who are clergy, those who are Christian. All of us, really. What do we really believe and what are we willing to give of ourselves for?
What I know is this: Jesus asks us to love our enemies, to return hatred with kindness, to forgive others their trespasses, to dare to see one another as brothers and sisters. I am proud, as a Christian and as a human, to be related in faith to those who would stare down the fear of their own death in the name of life. I hope I would find that courage if necessary.
And in the meantime I struggle to find the courage to understand that those who perpetuate this kind of hatred are also my neighbors, and that Jesus never distinguishes between those who are worthy of our love and those who are not. We are called to be in community with them all.
Every part of my being wants to distance myself from the perpetrators of evil. But my faith requires that I believe we are all children of God. I wonder if I have the strength to do even this.