As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, we do so with heavy hearts, yet also with hope.
The racism, strife, violence, and inequity that have marked our nation over the past year sadly show that we still are a nation divided. We have not yet achieved the promise of unity and peace envisioned by Rev. King and longed for by so many throughout our nation’s history.
This must change. We must continue to work for unity, dignity, and respect for every person no matter who they are. We must truly listen to each other, to seek to understand the experiences and the pain suffered by our brothers and sisters and to commit to understanding and to change. We must see Christ in every person and be Christ in our own actions.
The promise of Christ’s love makes this possible. Our nation can be united if we work together. As we reflect upon the life of Martin Luther King and look ahead, as a nation, to the inauguration of a new President, let each of us commit to work toward a world of unity, peace, and hope.
In the words spoken by our predecessor, Archbishop of Washington Patrick O’Boyle, as he stood with Rev. King at the 1963 March on Washington:
“May we be sensitive to our duties toward others as we demand from them our rights. May we move forward without bitterness, even when confronted with prejudice and discrimination. May we shun violence, knowing that the meek shall inherit the earth. But may this meekness of manner be joined with courage and strength so that with Your help, O heavenly Father, and following the teachings of Christ, Your Son, we shall now and in the days to come live together as brothers in dignity, justice, charity and peace.”
See also the Maryland Bishops' letter on racial justice, Building Bridges of Understanding and Hope.