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Remembering and celebrating the legacy of love of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 27, 2015 | posted by Jordan McMorrough

Topics: Archbishop

Remembering and celebrating the legacy of love of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The 28th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Citywide Interfaith Worship Service, hosted by the MLK Commission of San Antonio, took place at Temple Beth-El on Jan. 18, with the event again featuring a noticeable Catholic contingent.

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, presented the invocation at the gathering, while Father James Shea, CSsR, pastor of St. Gerard Church; and Sister Addie Lorraine Walker, SSND, director of the Sankofa Institute at Oblate School of Theology; prayed “A Prayer of Understanding” and “A Prayer for Peace,” respectively.

In addition, Nettie Hinton, a parishioner at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, introduced the guest speakers at the service. Among those who spoke at the citywide event were members of the Jewish, Muslim, Baha’i, Hindu, Sikh, Methodist and Baptist faiths, among others.

“There is nothing that touches my soul more deeply than when our bonds of mutual affection and respect are so visible,” said Archbishop Gustavo in his opening remarks. “This moment is truly blessed, because we are here as peacemakers doing what we can to call upon the Lord to strengthen us to heal the deep and painful wounds that made Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a necessary prophet for freedom and dignity of the human person.”

The archbishop expressed his certainty that on more than one occasion Dr. King prayed with these words from John 4:21: “God give us strength of body to keep walking for freedom. God, give us strength to remain nonviolent, even though we may face death.”

Archbishop Gustavo explained that this prayer reflects the courage Dr. King displayed and “the honorable, nonviolent battles he fought armed with faith, truth and a hopeful heart.”

The San Antonio prelate called on attendees to prayerfully celebrate their gratitude for Dr. King and all those who have taken up this just cause, making great sacrifices for the common good and the freedom of every person. “While too many of our brothers and sisters around the globe and here in our great nation continue to suffer from the enslavement of violence, poverty and hate, Dr. King remains a beacon of light and hope that shines through the lives of those who have carried on his legacy of courage and continue on a pilgrimage leading toward peace and harmony among people of all races, colors and creeds,” he stressed.

The archbishop lamented that the fight for personal liberty and the building of a just society is not complete. In his recent World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis called on everyone to join together in the work toward equality, saying, “We know that God will ask each of us: ‘What did you do for your brother?’ The globalization of indifference, which today burdens the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters, requires all of us to forge a new worldwide solidarity and fraternity capable of giving them new hope...”

In his first epistle, St. John also writes, “Whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him; whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

In his prayer, Archbishop Gustavo called upon the Holy Spirit to soften the hardened hearts who sow fear and distrust wherever they go, blinded by the darkness of racism and hatred.

“Father, we see around us the terrible price, and the hard learned lessons that come when the civil and human rights of any person or group are stolen by those who turn their back on the commandment of love,” he prayed. “We, your children, implore you to help each one of us to know that we all are first loved by you, and that you have called us to share that love with all of our brothers and sisters.”

The archbishop also gave thanks as those gathered honored the memory and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all who have and continue to follow in his footsteps. “We ask that your blessing be showered on all of us as we continue to work for peace with justice, and the human dignity of all of your children,” he intoned.

Archbishop Gustavo then repeated the prayerful and prophetic words of Dr. King: “Make us willing to do your will, come what may. Increase the number of persons of good will and moral sensitivity. Give us renewed confidence in nonviolence and the way of love as taught by Jesus Christ.”

The archbishop closed by asking for divine assistance to help spread the joy and responsibilities of love to all of our brothers and sisters who live in the shadows of bigotry and isolation. “Open our eyes to the beauty of all your children, showing them the respect that each deserve because they are your sons and daughters,” he concluded. “May we never show indifference to their suffering and always take up their cause for freedom and dignity in your name.”

The MLK March the following day, from the MLK Freedom Bridge on Martin Luther King Street to Pittman-Sullivan Park, featured a plethora of Catholic groups and again boasted of the largest attendance at this type of event in the United States, with over 100,000 persons taking part.