(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 22 January 2019)
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God,
“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope…”
This quote is from Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech and is etched upon his memorial in Washington, D.C. which is the picture you are seeing displayed in homeroom.
“The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is located in West Potomac Park at 1964 Independence Avenue, S.W., referencing the year the Civil Rights Act Of 1964 became law…Martin Luther King is the first African American honored with a memorial on the National Mall and the fourth non-president to be remembered in such a way. His message is universal: a non-violent philosophy striving for freedom, justice, and equality.”
Martin Luther King fought for equal rights for all citizens. I think part of what makes him so inspiring is that he knew his life was bigger than himself. He saw injustice and could not sit idly by. His life and example remind us that Christianity is not a spectator sport. We are called to take action: to strive for justice, to be peacemakers, to be generous with our resources, to place the needs of others ahead of our own worldly ambitions. After all, this is how Jesus Himself lived His earthly life…
This message is also reflected in a story with which we are probably all well acquainted, the story of the Good Samaritan. Martin Luther King offers a reflection regarding the famous parable. He imagines that the first question the priest and Levite ask (as they pass by the wounded man in the road) was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But the Good Samaritan, by the very nature of his compassion and concern, reverses the question asking: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’ The Good Samaritan becomes a stone of hope in that wounded traveler’s mountain of despair.
I have pondered this reflection lately and, if I’m being honest, I have to admit I can often see myself asking some form of that same self-serving question that the priest and the Levite were asking, counting the cost of potential sacrifice. So I imagine the challenge is to ask God for the grace to ask myself that second question when I encounter someone in need. Perhaps this is a challenge we can all take on in the spirit of the Good Samaritan and Martin Luther King Jr. Whether we see someone on the street whom we typically pass by without acknowledgement, or we witness a classmate being bullied, or an anxious student or friend who needs our time and attention, perhaps we can ask God to grant us grace for those moments to ask ourselves, like the Good Samaritan, what will happen to this person if I don’t stop to help her or him? And then let us answer that question with compassion and concern.
Let us pray…
Lord, grant us the willingness to live for something bigger than ourselves. Make us stones of hope for all the marginalized and downtrodden. Make us Lasallians who go and do likewise, passionately pursuing peace, healing, and justice for all those we encounter, whether at home, in our neighborhoods, here at our school, or beyond.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever.
Anthony Russo–Campus Minister