by Joseph Nangle, OFM
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
This week the leadership of Pax Christi USA has sent out a remarkable and much-needed call entitled the “Pledge To Protect Others”. The title says it all: a series of solemn promises made to care for ourselves and especially to be for others during this frightening time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a time of fear for one’s own safety and conversely the desire to “get back to normal”, the Pledge calls us to a realistic and utterly Christ-like posture, as for example the promise to “listen to the voices of those most vulnerable, those whose suffering is exacerbated because of the racism and social inequities that existed before this pandemic and to value the dignity of all and stand in solidarity with those most at risk”. Truly these words echo the Beatitudes of Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels.
One could simple quote here both the several promises made by those who take this Pledge and the urgency for all of us to read them, meditate on them and sign them. However, it may be useful to call attention to the particular moment in which the Pledge is being offered by Pax Christi USA. For those of us who declare ourselves a “community that seeks to model the Peace of Christ”, the current liturgical days are a kairos moment for making such a Pledge.
This week we celebrate the feast of Christ’s return to His Heavenly Father after having completed his mission as “the way, the truth and the life” for humanity. We will note in the Ascension Day reading from the Acts of the Apostles the words spoken to the bystanders at the moment of Jesus’s leave-taking: “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” They are a powerful reminder that those disciples and all of us who have tried to follow Christ are called to get on with His work in our historical time and place: as for example, making this Pledge to Protect Others.
Also, next week we mark the day of the first Pentecost, a stunning moment for the followers of Jesus. From men hiding together in a secluded room for fear of experiencing terrible reprisals as Jesus’s friends, they burst out and begin to proclaim his resurrection publicly. What happened to them is, of course, that the Spirit of fortitude drove them into the streets of Jerusalem in that dramatic way. It is easy to connect this event with the present Pentecost Day and the proclamation of this Pledge.
As mentioned, this initiative is a kairos moment, no less than those dramatic events we celebrate liturgically in these days. As one wonderful Catholic activist put it: “The Holy Spirit continues to shower ‘new graces’ on the People of God, indeed on the whole human family, as historic circumstances demand them.”
The preamble to the Pledge states: “The pandemic has shown us just how intertwined our lives are, how intricately our own fate is bound to the fate of friends and strangers alike all around the world. Because of my belief in the inherent value of every person and the recognition that, in the end we are all family to one another, I make this Pledge…
A Pentecostal statement. A Pentecostal act!
Joe Nangle OFM is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace. As a member of the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., he is dedicated to simple living and social change. Joe also serves as the Pastoral Associate for the Latino community at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, Virginia.