In 2006, a small, one-room schoolhouse was the center of a major tragedy. A lone gunman entered the school and killed five students, injured five more, and forever changed the lives of many others. Tragedies such as this happen too often. What is sometimes surprising are the number of voices that call out for compassion, empathy, and even forgiveness towards those who have hurt us, our family, and our community. Carrie Underwood’s song “Love Wins” is not just about reaching out to our friends, family, neighbors, but also those who are different from us and even those who have hurt us. We don’t know what another person is going through, but only by approaching each other in the spirit of love and forgiveness can we begin to heal our hearts and community.
Key Lyrics: I, I believe you and me are sisters and brothers / And I, I believe we’re made to be here for each other / And we’ll never fall if we walk hand in hand / Put a world that seems broken together again / Yeah I, I believe in the end love wins
Questions: What have you found difficult to forgive? Were you able to let go of the hurt or grudge? How? Are some actions unforgivable? What examples of forgiveness do you see around you? How have you been forgiven?
via Flickr user Alvaro Canivell
“One cannot honor another person without blessing God who created the person. One cannot adore God without loving all God’s creatures.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church #2069
Loving our neighbors as ourselves is another way of expressing the golden rule — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The golden rule challenges us to develop empathy — the ability to feel with others. To empathize is to walk in our neighbor’s shoes, to put ourselves in their place. Catholic social teaching rests on the principle that every human person is sacred, made in God’s image and likeness, possessing inalienable rights to life and its basics. We cannot love God without loving our neighbor. We cannot love our neighbors without listening and learning their culture. Loving our neighbors is vital to becoming our whole selves.
Some ideas for putting your faith in action include inviting neighbors of diverse cultures in your area to visit your class and talk about their lives, values, and dreams, practicing empathy consciously for a day — put yourself in the shoes of people you dislike or dismiss, talk to a classmate you don’t know every day for a week, and visiting the Southern Poverty Law Center to explore and use the center’s 101 Tools for Tolerance.