Every good little Catholic knows that come Hell or high water, every year, on the day after Halloween, you go to church.
Yep, November 1st is All Saints Day, where we honor those who have gone before us, who – “Capital ‘S'” Saint or not – lived their lives for God.
And so today, I got to go to mass with my parents at my childhood parish.
And it was so cute – the day school was there, and all the little kindergarteners were all dressed up like a different saint. We had munchkin Mother Theresa’s, and mini JP2’s fidgeting in the front row. It was adorable.
But that’s not the point of this post.
Throughout Mass, I couldn’t help but think about our Jewish brothers and sisters who lost their lives last weekend at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg.
How terrifying it must have been to be in your house of worship – a place of peace and vulnerability and prayer – and come face to face with such abhorrent evil.
I’m going to be honest, the whole situation gave me such a pit in my stomach. Firstly, in devastation for those lives lost to such evil. To hate a person simply because of their belief system is the lowest of low, and disgusting intolerance.
But secondly, for how the media has been responding to this tragedy. Shame on you, media, for using this as an opportunity for political gain. It absolutely sickens me how some news channels have been manipulating the situation to somehow blame President Trump for this anti-Semitic hate crime. Do they not realize that his daughter, her husband and child are Jewish!? Or that he’s the only president to follow through on the commitment made several years ago to move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? And shame on those “faith” leaders who are spewing hatred towards President Trump, not welcoming him to mourn for a people that he cares greatly for.
It just left me feeling disgusted that people could use this as an opportunity to further divide, instead of unite.
I was, however, encouraged by my fellow New Yorkers, who came together in such a big way immediately following the attack. They held an interfaith service, where Cardinal Timothy Dolan was one of the speakers, where people gathered to mourn and pray. It was absolutely beautiful — the line to get into the synagogue stretched around the block.
“In this city…we love one another. We work together. Do we sometimes argue? Yes. Do we disagree? Yes. But the respect for the inherent dignity of every human being and the sacredness of human life, we never, ever question.” – Cardinal Timothy Dolan
And seeing that unity and cooperation, it made me think about Jesus.
His greatest commandment: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.
He didn’t say, love the people who look like you, speak like you, believe like you, live where you live. No. Your neighbor. Love your neighbor, whomever they may be: tall, short, gay, straight, black, white, republican, democrat, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Atheist, Buddhist – love your neighbor.
And Jesus didn’t just talk the talk. He actually did that during his short 33 years on this earth. Simply by God coming down to earth, becoming human, he united all of us humans. The human family – that is what we are. And He loved all of us.
And the incredible thing is that, God works through all of us, believers or not. God is working in our lives, because when we love, God is present. Because God is love.
If Jesus showed us one thing through His example, it is that He loved all people. Whomever He came in contact with. They left that encounter feeling loved. Even those nailing Him to the cross. All people. And that is what we are called to do.
This attack on our Jewish brothers and sisters — it is not an attack on an “other.” It’s not an attack on a “them.” It’s an attack on an “us.” Because we are all part of the human family, made in the image and likeness of God.
And the sooner we can all live like that, and stop using these tragic events to further an “us vs. them” agenda, or worse — paint a falsely accusatory narrative — the greater resilience we can have together.
My deepest prayers are with those 11 people who lost their lives that day, and their families left behind, forced to pick up the pieces.
And I want to close with an incredible quote from President Trump — that believe it or not, I actually found after I wrote the body of this post:
“The hearts of all Americans are filled with grief. … This evil, anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us. It’s an assault on humanity. It will require all of us working together to extract the hateful poison of anti-Semitism from our world.”
Leave it to Donald to really bring it home.
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