By Father Dale Korogi Church of the Ascension, North Minneapolis MN
I. THE DISTRESS
There is a serious racial divide in our neighborhood, our city, and our society. How differently we, with our different histories and different ethnicities, see and interpret the world. Who do we trust? “Black men are thugs.” “The cops are thugs.” We have deeply embedded perceptions and presumptions and prejudices. All of us have blind spots that result in racial profiling: the demonization of individuals and classes of people. We need to recognize and challenge our conscious and unconscious biases.
One of the most haunting facts in the recent report on the Minneapolis police shooting death of Jamar Clark were Mr. Clark’s words, “I’m ready to die.” He was 24 years old. What led him to so disvalue his life and dignity? He, like all of us, like it or not, was shaped to a greater or lesser degree, by the experience of his ancestors many generations removed. African-Americans live with the legacy of families who suffered the legalized discrimination and segregation in so-called modern times, and the history of their forebears who first came to this country in chains and shackles. Fear, hopelessness. No wonder we see the world differently.
II. THE KINGDOM
As a white male, I don’t see my privilege because I’m too close to it, habituated to it. There’s so much I don’t yet get. We need to work on this together. In our multicultural community and country, we have the rich opportunity to know what it really means to be catholic: that is, a diversity of people united around love, a broad and inclusive collective. While it’s nice to all be in the same place getting along, we need to move beyond superficial relationships and our sketchy knowledge of one another’s histories.
The apostle Thomas is forever saddled with the title, “Doubting Thomas.” He gets a bum rap for his behavior, but it’s understandable and even commendable. He’s not content with what everybody is saying about somebody else. He’s not content with hearsay. Thomas wants to get Jesus’ story from Jesus himself.
Like Thomas, we need not rely on what others say about others. We have to listen to and hear the stories, in particular, from our brown and black brothers and sisters themselves, and come to know the challenges that they face every day because of the color of their skin. We need to put our fingers into their wounds, our hands into their sides. That’s risky. Because once we know their suffering, we must help to absorb their suffering.
We need to be more fully engaged as an intercultural nation, and more integrated into our multicultural neighborhoods. We need to be willing to go out and stand with others and act to bridge racial divisions and disparities—because that’s what religious discipleship—and non-religious citizenship–requires.
III. THE ENDURANCE
The spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, points out that, even though Thomas didn’t share the faith of the others in the room, he was there with them, nevertheless: he stayed among the community of believers. Nouwen says: I find this a very profound and consoling thought. In times of doubt or unbelief, the community can “carry you along”; it can offer on your behalf what you yourself overlook.
Let’s commit to staying among the believers, working together, loving one another for the long haul, united in faith that there is no despair, no division, no evil, no death that is beyond God’s power to repair. Let’s share the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance (Revelation 1:9-11) we have in sustained love.
Hat tip to: Edward Braxton
Dale Korogi was born and raised in North Minneapolis. He grew up in St. Philip’s parish, where he attended grade school. He graduated from Minneapolis Central High School and the University of Saint Thomas, in St. Paul Minnesota. where he earned a BA in Theology. His seminary studies took him to Rome. There he received an STB (Baccalaureate in Theology) from the Gregorian University and an STL (Licentiate in Sacramental Theology) from the Athenaeum of Saint Anselm.
Since 1983, he has been a priest for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. His work there has included posts as Vocation Director, Rector of Saint John Vianney Seminary, Parochial Vicar of the Basilica of Saint Mary, and Chaplain atNorth Memorial Medical Center. He served as Pastor of the Church of Christ the King in Southwest Minneapolis for 12 years, and became Pastor of the Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis in 2015