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Statement for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Bishop W. Shawn McKnight

Today we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian who sacrificed his life in enabling our country to come to a “more perfect union.” His words are perhaps more urgent today, as we struggle with what we can do to heal the terrible divisions and to cease the violence happening in our country.

A strong advocate of peace-making and nonviolence, he said in 1958, “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.”

Later in his ministry, he said, “Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method…is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community…”

Each one of us has a role in reconciliation, in redeeming our communities. Each one of us can use the gifts God has given us – our creativity, our compassion, our charity — to build up our “beloved communities.”

Today, may we also remember the words of the psalmist, words we as Catholics heard yesterday at our Sunday liturgy: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.” Let each of us consider what we can do to love one another, regardless of the other’s skin color, political ideology, where they live or who they “follow” on social media. Let us not tear apart, but build up our communities, for we are Better Together.