• Jim Brown

How Can I Keep From Singing?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Luke 10:27, Parable of the Good Samaritan

Sometimes, I think we're living in two worlds.

One is at the church, temple, mosque or place of worship, where we hear the Good News or guidance from our holy books, knowing that many if not most teachings from different religions are very similar. You know ... Love your neighbor. Love and worship one God. The belief in an afterlife and day of judgment (mostly), man's free will, an apocalypse and savior, and divine scripture to guide us ... and on and on.

We generally know what we should be doing, like following the commandments, lifting up the least among us and living a life of service, whether we're Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or a non-believer. Yet outside our holy places, many of us to varying degrees are struggling to love our neighbors no matter what (agape) and to promote our common bonds as Americans, regardless of our differences.

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address

Being better angels doesn't include engaging in a no-win Condemnation War on social media. It does include addressing our challenges of today. Many of us don't vote. Fewer read diverse news sources. Some support leaders who overtly attack our constitutional rights that protect each of us and our republic. This uncivil war could become civil, unless we get ahold of ourselves. Which is what we must do ... each one of us, one by one.

These thoughts were on my mind this morning at Mass as I listened to Luke 10:25-37, The Parable of the Good Samaritan. As we know, both the priest and Levite avoided the Jew who had been beaten and robbed, passing on the other side of the road. Enter the Good Samaritan, the man LEAST likely to help the beaten Jew. Samaritans were universally despised by the Jews, generally considered “half-breeds” for adopting idolatrous practices. Yet, the Samaritan stopped, cared for the Jew, found an inn, paid for his stay, and promised more support if needed. One human being helping another, showing mercy, Jesus answered the question posed to him. "Go forth and do likewise," he ended.

Today, some of us are reluctant to help others who need us and who may not be like us. Just look at the immigration crisis. We're enabling politicians who refuse to fix this complex problem and instead use the issue as a wedge, We/they talk little about solutions like updated border security through technology and more people to help process applications, liberalizing our work-visa programs to help our economy while guaranteeing human rights and workers' rights, and investing in better shelters and treatment and more immigration courts to process their cases promptly. Instead, some of us support the alarming call for open borders while others support building a "great" wall, things that aren't practical or sensible. One is an invitation to lawlessness, more crime and drugs, and chaos; the other is an affront to Lady Liberty and our tradition to welcome people (the American Dream) who want to enter legally through ports of entry, like almost all of our ancestors did. When will we back leaders (Samaritans) who will find sensible bipartisan solutions to help the many who live in fear and are fleeing violence while protecting our national security?

For now, the blame is really on many of us for supporting divisive, impractical nonsense. It's on us for not voting, not being informed (watching one-sided media and/or confusing opinion with news), and not understanding that our problems are complex and not either-or issues.

Again, it's on us to get ahold of ourselves. When we do, our leaders will, too.

This morning's Mass ended with "How Can I Keep from Singing?" - an uplifting hymn published shortly after our devastating Civil War. May we be blessed with such guidance in and outside our places of worship in challenging times. May our new creation include rising above the darkness around us so we may help our brothers and sisters, like good Samaritans.

My life goes on in endless song

Above earth's lamentations,

I hear the real, though far-off hymn

That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife

I hear it's music ringing,

It sounds an echo in my soul.

How can I keep from singing?

While though the tempest loudly roars,

I hear the truth, it liveth.

And though the darkness 'round me close,

Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,

While to that rock I'm clinging.

Since love is lord of heaven and earth

How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble in their fear

And hear their death knell ringing,

When friends rejoice both far and near

How can I keep from singing?

17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All