I’m writing this Note from Pastor J R immediately after having watched Pope Francis’ address to a joint session of the U. S. Congress. Just prior to stopping to watch his address, I was working on this Sunday’s sermon and had just read again the gospel lesson for this week. With those scriptures fresh in my mind, it made Pope Francis’ remarks resonate all the more to me as I listened. The last verse of the gospel reading this week is “Have salt among yourselves. And be at peace with each other.”
While I’m of the opinion that a religious leader, even the Pope, should not have been asked to speak before the political body of the nation that espouses it’s belief in separation of church and state, I have to admit I was very pleased with his remarks.
In the four Americans he chose to highlight in that speech (none originially from Catholic backgrounds), it speaks volumes of why I do like this Pope. He invoked the memory of two of the best known Americans: Abraham Lincoln and his championing of liberty and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr commemorating the March from Selma to Montgomery in striving for liberty and civil rights. However, he also included two lesser known Americans, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
Dorothy Day, coming from an Episcopalian background, was the founder of the Catholic Workers Movement. She is famous for using faith to work for social justice. In 1940, TIME noted that, “Among U S Christians who care for the poor, none are more blessed with selfless zeal than those Roman Catholics who work in the Catholic Worker movement.” Thomas Merton, who also came from a similarly non-Catholic background, became a Trappist monk and best-selling author who championed dialogue as a means to lead to peace. And Pope Francis advocated that such dialogue is needed today, instead war first, talk later.
What stood out to me about these four Americans was that they were all American Salt; meaning they enhanced the wonderful flavor in the best sense of what the American conscience and experience should be. The gifts to these Americans serve as a preservative of best virtues and ideals we espouse to be true for our country. Their lives epitomize what it takes to “be at peace with each other.”
Not many of us are called upon to be a Day or Merton, much less a Lincoln or King; but we are called to salt in the surroundings God has placed us. We are all called by God to “be at peace with each other.” Let’s make every effort to do so.
Join us for worship this Sunday morning at Covenant and later in the afternoon, behind the Covenant Banner at Railroad Park for the AIDS Walk. My sermon title this Sunday morning is “Be At Peace With Each Other” based on Mark 9:38-47, 49-50.