IN THEIR DOCUMENT “OPEN WIDE OUR HEARTS,” THE U.S. BISHOPS TELL US THAT “Racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and it corrupts the souls of those who harbor racist or prejudicial thoughts.”
In a time of so much division and unrest, Scripture offers a guide for our lives and a place where all are welcome. We invite you to wander through these passages, reflection questions and prayers. Ask yourself: When have I been an instrument of peace and, conversely, when have I failed to recognize the dignity of another? We offer this as a resource for reflection, revelation and reconciliation.
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
For reflection: Have I taken time to put myself in the shoes of another? Have I asked myself what the other person’s experience might be? Have I put others’ needs before my own?
Prayer: Lord, for the times I have not put you first, for the times I have not served your people first, for the times I have let my own desires rise above the needs of another, I ask your forgiveness. Strengthen your will in me. Amen.
26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
For reflection: How do I view people who are different from me? Do I recognize the Creator in them? When have I judged someone based only on their image? How can I look for Christ in those who challenge me or my beliefs?
Prayer: Creator God, you designed each of us in your own image. Help us to recognize the uniqueness of each person and the individual gifts you have bestowed upon us. Amen.
1 JOHN 3:15-16
15 All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. 16 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.
For reflection: When have I hated? What is the source of my hatred? How can I lay down my opinions and judgment for someone with whom I disagree? Have I ever failed to intervene when I’ve seen an injustice being committed against someone? How should I respond as a Christian?
Prayer: Lord, for the times I have hated, forgive me. Just as you laid down your life for me, help me to lay down my prejudices toward others. Amen.
1 JOHN 4:19-21
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
For reflection: Who am I failing to love? What views might I have that keep me from accepting the differences of others? Have there been times when I have felt unloved? How would I have liked to have been treated?
Prayer: Loving God, you cherish each of us as your children. You do not love one of us more than another. Fill me with that love and help me to care for those who are hard to love. Amen.
1 CORINTHIANS 12:13
13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
For reflection: Do my actions and words reflect the Word of God? Do my comments and engagements help others to know the Gospel?
Prayer: Dear Lord, for the times I have forgotten that we are all of one Spirit, forgive me. Help me to remember that whatever I do, and however I act, I need to be a reflection of your Spirit to others. Amen.
1 SAMUEL 16:7
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
For reflection: If Jesus were to look in my heart right now, what would he see there? Could I explain my thoughts, my words, my feelings to him? Have I remembered to look into the hearts of others, or am I just looking at their outward actions which may stem from their own wounds?
Prayer: God of mercy, show me what is inside my own heart. Help me to look honestly, and cleanse any iniquities found there. Help me to stop any outward judgments and to look into hearts as you do. Amen.
13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
For reflection: When have my words or comments hurt others? When have I forgotten to speak the truth with love? Who do I need to forgive for hurting me? Who do I need to ask forgiveness from?
Prayer: All-forgiving God, look upon the times I have hurt others and grant me your forgiveness. For those who have sinned against me, grant me the ability to forgive them. Amen.