Being the Good Samaritan Amid Racial Tension in the US

In the Sunday Gospel following the week in which Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers died, Jesus reminded us to love our neighbor, and that being a true neighbor means responding in compassion to the person before us, no matter the labels that society uses to identify them as strange, different, or unworthy of our love.

In the United States, deeply-rooted divisions, and the violence that permeates the lives of people on the margins and those sworn to keep the peace, again came to light this past month. In international mission, we see such divisions in communities across the globe: between indigenous peoples and their neighbors descended from colonizers, between ethnic groups with complex and tense histories, between religious traditions and factions, and, as is so often the case, between those with power and people struggling for their basic rights and dignity.

Often, it is easier to name and judge problems in the places that we enter as outsider, when we have no history in a place that compels us to take sides. Let us re-commit, then, to the self-examination central to all faith traditions. Let us look at ourselves - as individuals, communities, nations, and a global society - and ask if we are truly on the side of God, who is love.

In accordance with the Gospel, let us commit to witnessing God's love through personal interactions, community engagement, solidarity building, and work for systemic change modeled on our limited yet ever-expanding understanding of God's Kingdom. And let us always pray for peace, beginning in our own hearts, thoughts, words, and actions.