OUR country has a dire and urgent need for prayers, my friends. Not only has it suffered tremendously from the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s also undergoing unrest civic and political unrest. The unjust death of George Floyd in the hands of the several policemen in Minneapolis has triggered demonstrations and unacceptable violence, looting, and burning of businesses and vehicles across our country, including here in Los Angeles.
We pray today for George Floyd and his family and the end of racism in our country. We pray for dialogue, mutual understanding, and respect to bring immediate resolution to this unrest in our society.
Ironically, the turmoils here in Los Angeles began last Pentecost Sunday, when we commemorated the sending the Holy Spirit to the disciples and Mary to bring peace and reconciliation to all people and the world. In the Gospel, the Risen Lord addressed his disciples, saying, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent you, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sin you retain are retained.”
Indeed, our Lord Jesus sent his disciples on a mission of reconciliation and peace. But let us not forget that he also sent them to build and Kingdom of justice in the world. It’s because there will never be peace without justice.
And so, yes, the public protest against racism is a work of a disciple. It fulfills his or her prophetic role to decry discrimination and unfair treatment of people of color and other races. But it must be done peacefully and respectfully, not instigating violence and terror.
To protest against injustice is a brave act of discipleship. It makes our local authorities and government accountable to our people’s needs and longings. It brings real issues to the desks and tables of policymakers. It brings changes and transformations to a nation and our lives.
But the looting, burning, and violence are not works of the Holy Spirit. They come from the evil one who wants to divide and terrorize us. They might reveal the frustrations of people regarding poverty, joblessness, and unfair practices. Still, they are not the right means to call attention to our leaders and policymakers.
The real works of the Holy Spirit are born out of love, mercy, compassion, truth, and justice. They are what we all need to achieve.
Our Lord Jesus has passed on these works to all of us, to all people of different generations. His work and mission never end. It’s why his message of peace and reconciliation is more relevant and critical today.
The emphasis of Pentecost is not what happened to Jesus, but what happened to the disciples: their new experience of power, manifested by their boldness in proclaiming “the great deeds of God.”
We pray that we also show God’s works in our lives by our courage to preach the Gospel effectively and powerfully to transform our civic and political society.
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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.