The Best Medicine for Racial Healing

A physician once said, “The best medicine for humans is love.” Someone asked, “What if it doesn’t work?” He smiled and said, “Increase the dose.” We are at a period in our nation where we need to increase the dose of love when it comes to the racial tension of our times. Our Lord, the Divine Physician, promises us opportunities to increase the dosage. As the Psalm notes, “The promises of the Lord are sure, silver refined in a crucible, silver purified seven times.” (Ps. 12:7). Thus, we will look at seven things we can do that can help to bring healing to the racial tensions of our times.

First, we must keep our focus on Jesus and Him alone! This is foundational because He is the only Physician that can heal our ills. The book of Hebrews tells us, “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:1–2). We are children of God first and foremost, not children of the State, a political party, or a cause. So, if something violates our dignity as a child of God, we cannot do, promote, nor dwell in it, period!

This brings us to the second purification introduced by St. Paul who tells us, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love” (Eph. 5:1-2).  Love is the fruit of focusing on Jesus. God is love (1 Jn. 4:8) and since we are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26) we must reflect His image to find the happiness and joy for which we were made. Who does not want to be happy, to have joy to the highest degree? We all do! This is the reason Jesus tells us, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn. 15:10–13).

Dwelling in God’s love by following His Commandment of love is the third purification. Of course, this means the 10 Commandments. But this also means the Natural Law (the commandments God put inside our human nature so we can operate at the full capacity of love). Next, it means the Law of Love, which excludes racism and rash judgement, as both are sins which are defined by the same five words: the absence of God’s love! Finally, it means the Law of Salvation (Soteriology). John’s Gospel tells us, “God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten Son so that all who believe in Him might not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16–17). Some theories promoted in modernity look at some people (generally black or white) as irredeemable. Would we hold ourselves to this same standard? Jesus tells us immediately after teaching us how to pray with the Our Father: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”(Matt. 6:14–15). We are called to be merciful since that is part of the Father’s love (see Lk. 6:36).

Hence the fourth purification is the act of mercy in which we instruct people in truth, as Jesus is the truth (Jn. 14:6). So let us look at critical race theory and compare it to our beloved Catholic Faith pertaining to various topics.

The first topic in this comparison is equality. Catholicism sees this as being equal in dignity. Critical race theory, however, sees equality as meaning equality of outcome. The president of Disciple Nations Alliance, Scott Allen, writes, “In other words, sameness, uniformity, and interchangeability . . .” In this, “it conflates disparities (differences) with injustice and oppression. Wherever disparities exist between groups, social justice assumes that the cause must lie with systematic or institutional oppression of one sort or another . . . justice equals sameness.” The irony is that in critical race theory, we throw away the equal God-given dignity of others so we can all be the same, uniform, and interchangeable. This is an offense against love, because with love there is no interchangeability. As Fulton Sheen notes, “Love only has one word . . . ‘You’.”

The second topic in this comparison are diversity and unity. Diversity means difference or variety, but it must be balanced by unity. Catholicism keeps them together because we are made to be in the image and likeness of God which brings the fullness of joy. America reflects the Trinitarian Image of unity-diversity balance through its founding fathers choosing our nation’s motto: E pluribus unum, Latin for ‘out of many, one.’ Again, Allen notes, “America’s strength is found in our unity (one nation, one common culture) and our diversity (many ethnicities and backgrounds).” Critical Race Theory separates these two characteristics and brings about bad fruit. “Diversity without unity is not strength. It leads to chaos and conflict . . . Unity without diversity is also negative. It leads to stifling, totalitarian conformity,” says Allen. We are not made to conform, but to freely choose love.

The third topic is in the worldview. In Catholicism, life is about getting to heaven by being another Christ (Christian) which means love and bringing people to the family of God. In critical race theory, it is about a power struggle between people; it is about fixing injustice by bringing about equality . . . but by any means (this is where this is antithetical to Christianity).

The last topic is in their blueprints. Catholicism has its blueprint modeled after the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation (our human experience is connected to our eternal experience). Critical race theory has as its blueprint Marxism, which is about dialectic theory. This means there is a thesis, which is always in opposition to an antithesis, which must always produce a synthesis. This is meant to produce “achievement” or progression in society. Simply put, Frederick Engels, who lays the foundation for Marxism, would write “nature is proof of dialectics” and so in this theory, conflict is necessary for bettering life. The “necessary conflict” in this theory segregates races against one another and makes them choose, “my race or theirs.” This is something we should be aware of as Catholics because the Church has not only warned against Marxist theory, but has condemned it, as well as said that clergy have a responsibility to keep people away from it because it is the “scourge of Satan.”1 We must decide if we want to follow our beloved faith or Marxism if we are going to be truthful about what is going on between these two worldviews.

Now that we know the truth about the theories, we can now start to look at practical solutions to build upon. These will be our fifth and sixth items. First, we must work on ways to welcome one another, which involves hospitality, friendships, and spending time with people of another race. Take the time to talk with someone from another race on a personal level. Have a meal with them. Become their friend and do activities together. Do not talk down to each other but talk and build each other up! Next, avoid rash judgement. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way.”2

This means that in eradicating the sin of racism,3 we must admonish the sinner, but not label things as sins that are not sins. Sin involves full consent and full knowledge. You cannot therefore be racist based on things that are not in your complete control. You cannot be subconsciously racist, nor be racist because of your skin color (irony alert), or your occupation. You must choose to be a racist because you must freely choose to sin. If you choose to single out and degrade a person because of their race or the color of their skin, or promote one race as superior or inferior to another, then you are choosing racism and should repent from that sin. And we repent so that everyone can dwell in the arms of the Heavenly Father who loves them.

In conclusion, let us end with the seventh and final purification which ties up all these items to the first. We are all meant to be in heaven together because we are bound by love, so let us live like it. Look at your brother and sister and see a blessing from God, not someone who is not my race or who does not have my best interest in mind. This can be a challenge, but not impossible because “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). Then we can remember, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of Christ.” Let us challenge one another to always live in that presence so we can heal!

  1. See Pius IX. Nostis Et Nobiscum: On the Church in the Pontifical States, sec. 18. Dec. 8, 1849. Accessed at: www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9nostis.htm; Pius XI. Divini Redemptoris: On Atheistic Communism, sec. 7. March 19, 1937. Accessed at: https://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19370319_divini-redemptoris.html.
  2. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition (Citta del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), paragraph #2478. Accessed at: https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P8K.HTM.
  3. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love – A Pastoral Letter Against Racism (Washington DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2018), p.8.
About Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony

Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony is a deacon for St. Timothy Catholic Church in Manassas, Virginia. He has a ministry for racial healing in relationships and has given numerous talks on racial issues to schools, young adults, and parishes. His website is www.jmjgerardmarie.com  and he can be reached at: deacon@jmjgerardmarie.com.

Comments

  1. All of this, Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony, is what I believe and wanted to express, but words failed me. Thank you and God bless!

  2. Tom McGuire says:

    Gerard,
    I could not agree more, Love is medicine. Love does not mean that I have to agree with the analysis of Catholic vs Marxism that you give as a means of social analysis. It does mean listening to those who suffer. I share with you this reflection of the George Floyd murder from a friend of mine. There is in it great personal love, but also a recognition of systemic racism.
    Brian – Over the last few days, I’ve experienced an insane…

    Over the last few days, I’ve experienced an insane amount of emotions over the death of George Floyd. I cried as I watched a video of the life being choked out of a man, because of the color of his skin. Selfishly, I didn’t see George Floyd, I didn’t know him. I saw Brian begging for his life and no one came to his defence. I saw my life, (past, present, and what should have been my future) flash before my eyes, being chocked out of me!

    As I watched a grown man cry out for help as he was publicly being lynched in broad daylight, I saw Brian. I felt him crying out for God, family, anyone please/please/please help me! I thought for a moment, he’s going to get off me, when I heard bystanders yelling “stop, you’re going to kill him.” It didn’t take long to realize I was wrong, he’s not getting off. Then I saw myself accepting my fate. This is it, it’s time to go meet my maker.
    As I realized, no one was coming to my defence. My prayer changed from God please protect me, to God please protect my family. My 1st thought was my wife. I love this woman, more than life itself, and the thought of her enduring the pain that George Floyd’s fiancé is experiencing right now. I saw my Moms breaking down as my friends shared stories of what kind of man I was. I saw my brothers/sisters (black/white/interracial) explaining to my nieces and nephews, that Uncle Brian was senselessly murdered.

    As I continued watching, it became harder to breathe, as thought about my circle trying to make sense of this. I saw them saying, not Brian, he was different. Brian’s different from all the other black men that have been killed, b/c society views them as a lesser human being. Brian isn’t like those other black men, he’s different. For a moment, I agreed with them, I am different.

    This wouldn’t happen to me, I’ve worked hard to prove to my circle that I deserve to be treated as an equal. I’ve served my community and I respect authority, so I’m good. For a brief moment, I started to feel extreme relief b/c I thought I’d never been in this situation. As I continued to watch, I couldn’t figure out why I was still crying. Why am I still feeling like I’m watching Brian, instead of George Floyd?

    Surely this officer knows how much I respect him and his profession. Surely he knows I go up to random officers on the street and thank them for their service. Surely he knows that I secretly pay for the meals of officers when I see them in the restaurant. Surely he knows, that I sincerely try to put others before myself. Surely he knows that I’ve coached for 20+ years, with the intent of building character and investing in the youth, through sports. Surely he knows that I’d never stand for anyone doing to him, what he’s doing to me. Surely he knows I’m different. Surely he knows, I’m not like other black people. Surely he knows I’m not George Floyd.

    Then it hit me, I am George Floyd. Unfortunately, the man with his knee in the back of my neck hasn’t had a chance to meet Brian. He doesn’t know Brian, so he doesn’t see Brian. I am George Floyd to him. Just like, I didn’t know George Floyd so I saw myself. He doesn’t know Brian, so he can’t see the real Brian. In the heat of the moment, all he sees is my skin complexion so he assumes the worst. He can’t see the person b/c he doesn’t know the person that my friends and family see.

    I’ve seen a lot of posts from white people, asking what can they do. I don’t claim to have the answers, but I appreciate your question too much to not give you my thoughts.

    I’d like to start with you watching the video of George Floyd, the way I did.

    When you watch the video of George Floyd, don’t see George Floyd. See Brian, or better yet, your son or someone you deeply care about. Imagine what you’d do if you saw a video of your loved one begging for his life as an officer is on top of him, with his knee in the back of his neck. Really try to imagine such an injustice happening to you. Imagine that person constantly living in fear that this could happen to them at any moment. This is the fear that black men in America, live with every day. This is the fear my wife has in her voice when she calls me while I’m out because she hears a police siren.

    If you can imagine your family suffering the way the Floyd family (and many others) is suffering right now, then I think we can start to have the conversation. If you can truly empathize with my pain, then you might be able to understand why I grew up hating myself b/c I wasn’t like all of my white friends. If you can understand that, you’ll understand why I spent my whole life trying to be accepted as an equal. After you understand that, then maybe you can understand why I discriminated against my own race b/c they weren’t doing the same things that I was doing to try to fit in.

    The only way (IMO) we get past this is to start having those uncomfortable conversations about race. An honest conversation. One where I face my flaws and you face yours. Note that, if you really want to understand my struggle, come with a heart to understand. Not with a defensive heart or one that has preconceived notions of what (and why) you think it’s like to be a black man in America.

    I’m ready and willing to have that conversation but please understand, I don’t speak for, nor do I represent all black people. Also, please don’t expect me to have the answer of how to end racism b/c I don’t know. However, I think you and I can do a much better job working together than I can on my own.

    Before we talk, I want to say a few things that anyone who knows me will tell you, it’s not who I am. I don’t hate cops, I appreciate them the same way you do. When I say Black Lives Matter, I don’t mean that white lives don’t. When I support a black man taking a knee during the National Anthem, it doesn’t mean I don’t love America, nor does it mean I wouldn’t fight with and for you! I love America and wouldn’t rather be anyplace else. I’m not interested in dwelling in the past but I don’t think we can build an equal America without understanding it!

  3. Larry Frey says:

    Thanks again for your excellent article and choosing to be part of the solution instead of the problem! Some will show indifference but misery loves company! I remember reading about the division in Antioch, some were saying; I’m a Thessalonian, I’m a Corinthian, or I’m a Ephesian! But in Antioch, the true believers said for the first time; I am a Christian!!!

  4. Maria Ho says:

    Deacon Anthony,
    I agree with you completely! LOVE is the best medicine specially the Love of God. This is a very beautiful and inspiring article. Thank you for all that you do to inform and educate us. I am edified by your love and support for our youth. Thank you and may God continue to bless and inspire you!
    Humbly in JMJ,
    Maria Ho

  5. sergio p. says:

    Rome, may 22 2021
    Dear Deacon GERARD-MARIE ANTHONY

    Thanks a lot for your opinion about the need to “increase the dose of love when it comes to the racial tension of our times”.
    Scientifically we know that races do not exist, because the genetic information of the gender “homo” is exactly the same to everyone. We know either that the Holy Spirit has made a new creation in Christ and there is not division among peoples, but we are ONE IN CHRISTI.
    May this Feast of Pentecost could inspire all of us to convert our hearts to the love of God. The holy Father invite us to heal by unifying our efforts to win the battle against our “internal virus” and the pandemic produced by external virus “In these months of pandemic, we have become ever more conscious of our fragility and consequently of the need for an integral ecology that can sustain not only physical ecosystems but human ones as well. Since “everything is interconnected… genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others” (Laudato Si’, 70). For this reason, an attitude of solidarity and respect for each person, created in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26-27), is all the more necessary in uniting sincere love for our brothers and sisters with an unwavering commitment to resolve the environmental and social problems affecting those living in island and maritime areas.” cf. https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2021/documents/papa-francesco_20210521_lettera-card-turkson.html

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