Sunday, August 20, 2017

no room for race hate in the Church

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

There is a very obvious theme running through our readings today from Sacred Scriptures – and that is how God is the God of all people upon the earth; and his Son was sent for all. In our Old Testament reading God, speaking though his prophet Isaiah says his house will be a house of prayer for all people. In our epistle St Paul reminds the Romans that God is merciful to all, Jew and Gentile. And in our Gospel reading the Canaanite woman comes to Jesus asking for healing for her daughter, who is tormented by a demon; she is a foreigner, but she seeks God's help and mercy – and her prayer is granted.

This message that God is the God of all people, with no preference being given to the colour of their skin or what part of the world they may happen to come from, is very timely in the light of recent events in the United States, where Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists marched openly in the streets. Theirs is the quite frankly evil ideology that lead to the Holocaust, a dark stain in the history of humanity when millions of innocent lives were brutally snuffed out on the basis of the nonsensical and blatantly pseudo-scientific notion that some races were superior to others and that the interests of 'racial purity' demanded that what were deemed 'lesser races' be exterminated.

Now, when we think of the Holocaust we quite naturally think first of the Jews, six million of whom lost their lives in its horrors. But we must also remember that over eleven million others, mainly Slavs, lost their lives as well. They were also deemed to be lesser by this dreadful ideology; as were those of African origins and many others too. That over seventeen million lost their lives is horrifying and reason enough that such beliefs as these should be seen as being beyond the Pale. But this mind-numbingly large number was simply the tip of the ice-berg in terms of what was intended. Had the Nazis prevailed, their evil ideology would have required the death of not just millions but billions.

Sadly, sometimes there are those who try to claim that religion justifies racism. Sometimes they do so to justify their own racism; and sometimes they do so in order to justify their own prejudice against religion. But as our readings from Sacred Scriptures today make clear there is no basis upon which a person can find comfort for such views in the Holy Bible. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that just as the Lord told his followers that they could not serve two masters and could not serve both God and Mammon, neither can a person claim to be a follower of Christ while also adhering to this kind of ideology. How could they? The first is to seek to be holy as God is holy; the second is evil and therefore must be seen as belonging to the Evil One.

He is, of course, the Father of Lies; and the lie that one race is somehow superior to another is one of his most noxious ones. It is denied by science which, by virtue of the study of DNA, tells us that ultimately all men and women of the earth are kin to each other, that no matter how far you travel every person you meet is a distant relation. And it is denied by Sacred Scripture, which tells us that we are all children of our First Parents, Adam and Eve.

Because the Christian faith is utterly hostile to such an evil ideology, it is important the Christian faith in all its fullness be proclaimed fearlessly in the world. We must never forget that many thousands of brave Christian men and women also died during the Holocaust, sent to the death camps specifically because they knew their faith demanded of them that they speak out against the evil they saw taking place around them. They spoke then; we must speak out now – not just against this evil, but all the evils in the world today. We may not have white supremacists in our nation, but there are plenty of other evil creeds seeking to tempt the unwary, the gullible, the dissatisfied, or the oppressed soul to follow them. And also, because we know that those who follow such evil ideologies are deluded by lies and falsehoods, we must pray for them. For our Scripture readings today tells us today that God desires the Salvation of all. And deluded though they are, they are also our brothers and sisters, some through their baptism, all through their blood. We must never abandon them to the Evil which has ensnared them but instead pray for them endlessly - in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

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