As I sit here looking at the blinking cursor, continuing my series on racism, my thoughts seem like they are just whirling around and around. As I silently pray to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and words, I am reminded of the morning antiphon that the Church in the Liturgy of the Hours prayed on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, June 19: “Come, let us worship Jesus, whose heart was wounded for love of us.”
Jesus’s heart was wounded for love of us. He was pierced so that we could see as well as understand what true love actually was. This is the antithesis of what racism, prejudice and discrimination is all about.
This evil (and I don’t use that word lightly) can make a victim feel less human by stripping their dignity from him or her. This stripping creates a wound in their self-image. The constant reminders of being subhuman can cause a helplessness, an attitude of “Why bother! I am no good!” Living under that perspective can create a hopelessness that further undermines human dignity, creating a vicious cycle. The lasting feelings of vulnerability and fear can create a culture of slavery in which there is no escape. This type of slavery can subjugate not only individuals but also entire communities, creating a shadow deep within the psyche of the community.
You might say, “Oh come on, Sister! You are a white woman. How do you know what it feels like to be a person of color?” I would be the first one to say, “I don’t! But, I do know what it feels like to be devalued because I am a woman, because I am a Religious, because I have a learning disability. I also can understand the feeling of being of no worth, of being bullied because I was different than others.” It wounds the soul beyond what words can describe. As I type these words, tears well up in my eyes because I still can identify with the pain.
Wounds. Is it strange that our society wants us to hide and ignore the wounds caused by the sin of racism? Yet, when we look at Jesus, he willingly showed his disciples his wounds that were inflicted upon him because of our sin. It was not out of his inability to heal his wounds, but to wear them as a trophy of his victory.” I am NOT saying to accept the wounds of racism and call it a day. NO WAY! What I am saying is that out of our wounds, we must be ready to give to others.
Because we have experienced this kind of pain, we can stand up and scream, “Enough! Not on my watch!” It demands constant personal reflection because of the hiddenness of this sin. Own your pain and strive to not deepen the pain of others.
It demands a vulnerability, a love that is reflected in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He calls out to us today, “Will you love others as I have loved you?”
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness
Giving From Our Wounds
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