Our celebration of Easter this past Sunday couldn’t have come at a more fortuitous time in our troubled world. We are reminded anew that the light of our faith, the Christian virtue of hope, “allows us to see beyond problems, pain, difficulties, beyond our sins. It allows us to see the beauty of God,” as Pope Francis said so eloquently in a Lenten homily.
It is a crucial insight to share in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, and in Yemen and other locations around the globe. We cannot give in to despair or vengeance. We are called to pick up the pieces, to aid the suffering and to take action — individually and collectively — to make the world a better place.
As a result of divine grace, Christ’s apostles came to understand the Resurrection and were strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit to go out and spread the Good News, to bring hope to a world darkened by oppression. In many ways, we repeat the story today.
A reader observed “I watch the news, read the papers and watch documentaries of the SO many atrocities in the world. People starving, cold, homeless, orphaned, abused in every way possible, imprisoned, tortured.… I could go on forever. Please tell me what am I (we — all people who feel the same) supposed to do? How do we live day today with all the blessings we have in this country?”
This reader seemingly answered her own question: “I remember Mother Teresa saying something to the effect … what you can’t do for many, do for one … so I try.” And that’s a good start!
We cannot individually stop ISIS from slaughtering innocent people, most recently in Brussels, but we can take the time to learn about the causes of hatred that fuel violence worldwide and in our own communities. Why have more than 100 people been slain in Chicago in 2-1/2 months since January of this year? What problems led to the 168 shooting incidents in Davenport in 2015?
We can support our community’s efforts to stem the violence. Kent Ferris, diocesan director of Social Action, recommends that clergy get involved in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue through their community’s ministerial organizations. It’s an opportunity for clergy to bring issues up to their fellow clergy representatives, always mindful as to how to engage the laity as well. Quad Cities Interfaith, based in Davenport, and The Center for Worker Justice, based in Iowa City, are two other organizations that engage people of faith and all people of goodwill in working for the betterment of their communities.
Catholics Confront Global Poverty, which has the backing of the U.S. bishops and Catholic Relief Services, offers timely information about international hot spots while also raising awareness so that ordinary people can address issues with their legislators. The Iowa Catholic Conference is another great resource in addressing the social justice issues of our time.
We can also support the Knights of Columbus for giving hope to our persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East through the Christian Refugee Relief Fund. The KCs welcome opportunities to collaborate with diocesan organizations interested in participating in humanitarian relief efforts.
“Yes, Christ my hope is arisen; to Galilee he goes before you,” we read in the ‘Sequence — Victimae Paschali Laudes’ for Easter Sunday. We follow Christ to Galilee by holding fast to that hope and sharing it with others.