Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, our parish namesake. We celebrate what St. Bonaventure identified as the source of the fountain fullness of love poured into our hearts. Our hearts, in Latin the word is “cor” from which is derived the English word, “core” as in the core, the center of being, the center of prayer and hope, the center of our moral compass, and center of the stories that matter to us.
And today we also celebrate Father’s Day and honor the men in our lives whose presence shaped and formed us, passing on the Faith, passing on a moral compass, and letting us know where we stand in the world. All done through their experiences and passed on to us in wisdom and stories. I think we can all tell stories and recount sayings from our fathers. One of my favorite expressions from my father was “the main thing is making sure the main thing remains the main thing.” As I said, we all have our own stories.
Let me share some stories of another father to his son. These are the stories that Shai Linne needs to tell his son to shape and form him, set his moral compass, and let him know where he will start out on the journey of his life. Shai Linne lives in Philadelphia and a Christian music artist. These are some of the stories that he needs to tell his son about growing up black in America. Stories that he describes as “both the way I see myself and the way others have seen me my whole life.”
- I was 12 years old and wanted to buy new sneakers with my birthday money. I took too long to decide which sneakers I wanted to buy with my birthday money and the white saleswoman assumed I was in the store to steal something. She asked me to leave.
- In college, while walking back to campus, I was handcuffed and put in the back of a police car and had to wait for white couple to come identify whether or not I was the one who’d committed a crime against them. If they misidentified me, I would be immediately taken to jail, no questions asked.
- After college I began to notice that white people, women especially, would cross to the other side of the street to avoid walking past me. I learned to preemptively cross to the other side myself to save them the trouble of being afraid and to save me the humiliation of that silent transaction.
- When meeting some white people for the first time, you need to find a way to let them know, “You don’t need to be afraid. I’m sure we have things in common!”
- I once asked to borrow baby swing for you from a white friend in our mostly white suburb. She told me: “Sure you can borrow it. I have to go out, but I’ll leave it on the porch for you. Just grab it.” I had to decide whether to get the swing. I did and I was terrified as I walked up the steps that someone would think I was stealing it and call the cops on me.
- When I go out in the car, it’s good to have the car seats are in the car, so that when I’m stopped by the police, they will notice the car seats and also the wedding band on my hand on the wheel in plain sight. I hope that the police officer is married with a family and small kids like me.
- When I am church there will be a great fellowship with your white brothers and sisters. When you mention racism, injustice, or police brutality, don’t be surprised if someone wonder when you became some kind of “liberal” or “social justice warrior.”
- These days when I talk about “Black lives matter” some of my friends will respond, “All lives matter.” Son, they right. Of course all lives matter, but in this country, black lives have been treated like they don’t matter for centuries and the way things are in criminal justice, income, housing, health care, education, etc. show that our lives don’t actually matter like they should.
- But son, I have hopes your generation will see you differently – but either way – grow up to be a man who knows his heart; who knows how to love without limits.
Likely your stories are very different, I know mine were. It is the privilege I enjoy.
These are but one set of stories from father to son. May you celebrate your stories this day. And may the memory of those stories and wisdom shape us to be people who at our core, at the center of being, prayers and hopes, at the center of our moral compass –be people who are a fountain fullness of love pouring into the world. Love: from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through us, into the lives of others.