Ubi caritas et amor, deus ibi est.
Where there is charity and love, there is God.
This evening, God calls us to bring to him our hearts: full of prayer or worry or anger or hurt. Our Father in heaven has called us to ask Him to heal the divisions of men and to bring charity to his children. Jesus is here in the Sacrament of Charity, the Eucharist, to fill our souls with his overflowing love and to remind us that where there is charity and love, there is God.
The events in Ferguson have been troubling. Not only has the violence there betrayed communion among brothers, but such violence also betrays that there has been a carving out of a space separate from God. For if God is where charity and love are, then what happens when there is violence?
Certainly, God is even there—and precisely there too, for we know that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. In the places of violence, it is there that the crucifixion is placed and experienced anew, with Christ still suffering for the souls of men, still offering Himself to the Father for the forgiveness of sins: “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”
In these past days, we have been encouraged to pray for peace. I humbly suggest that we ask for more than peace. What we have witnessed in Ferguson is not simply the result of inequalities brought to the fore by the catalyst which was the shooting. No, what we have witnessed is the rotten fruit born from a culture of death, a culture that for decades has been sowing larger structures of sin and evil. No, what is required is not just peace, but repentance and mercy. We pray for mercy for our culture’s sins—and our own.
We have been part of a culture that has overlooked the dignity of man precisely because it has overlooked the dignity of God. This is why, when Pope St. John Paul II visited St. Louis, he said: “America, if you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life. If you want life, embrace Truth -- Truth revealed by God.” And “what is Truth?” says Pontius Pilate. I AM says Jesus. Only when our culture is filled with the light of Christ will the darkness of violence cease.
I lament that these events took place just days before the great celebration of the anniversary of our city and of our patron, St. Louis. But today is his feast day. Let us ask for St. Louis’ intercession, on this the 800th anniversary of his birth. That he, as our saint and patron of our city and Archdiocese, will drive away all darkness and evil and beg God to grant us mercy, forgiveness, and peace.
Jesus, heal our culture. Hear our prayer for mercy. Dwell in our midst once again. For where there is God, so too there is charity and love. Amen.