Commentary on the Gospel of

Julie Kalkowski - Creighton University's Heider College of Business - Financial Hope Collaborative

Two very different themes kept surfacing when I read and reread today’s readings.  But both centered on the vision Jesus had for us and our world. 

“”Peter approached Jesus and asked him,

“Lord, if my brother/sister sins against me,

How many times must I forgive them?”

Forgiveness — such a beautiful concept, but so difficult to practice in real life. You can imagine Peter’s surprise when the Jesus answered, “not seven times, but seventy-seven time.”  So different from the way of Peter’s (and our) world’s perspective.  God is so much bigger and kinder than us but sometimes we can have glimpses of God’s way while we are alive. 

While my mother was in hospice, my six siblings and I made a pact to not to take offense with each other.  For most of seven weeks, five of us were providing 24/7 care and we were exhausted with caretaking and grief. So, we decided we would take the high road and not devolve into pointless scrabbles when one of us would enviably say something hurtful or stupid to another. We were able to care for my mother at home during her last days and that was such a luxury compared to many families during this time.  It was not always easy and many times my tongue was sore from biting it, but we made it through with the grace of God.  My mother passed away on June 19 with three of us by her side.  It is somewhat miraculous to me that despite fatigue and sadness, we were able to keep forgiving each other or at least look the other way.  What a gift that was to my parents and to each other.  Forgiveness was so healing to my family during this difficult time.

“The word of the Lord came to me:

Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house’

they have eyes to see but do not see,

and ears to hear but do not hear,

for they are a rebellious house.”

These words reminded me of the sin of racism in our country. For centuries many of us have denied the humanity of African Americans.  We choose not to see African Americans as children of God or to hear their cries of pain and frustration.  For the most part, we European Americans have not had to deal with the issue of race because it has not affected our lives.  We have not had to be mindful about how our actions might destroy our life or the lives of our family. One quick example: right out of college I worked with the Dominican Volunteers. For three of the five years I spent with the Sinsinawa  Dominicans, I was the co-director of their volunteer program. One of my duties was to visit the volunteers in the communities where they were serving.  I spend much time in the car seeing volunteers in Oakland or the Bronx or Anaconda, MT.   Only twice in three years did my car break down; once in Madison, WI and the other time in Marks, MS.  Both times I was luckily able to coast into a service station.  When Sister Maureen came to pick me up in Mississippi, I naively inquired why didn’t one of the attendants give me a ride to their convent the way they had in Madison? Sr, Maureen tersely replied “Because they value their lives.”  I did not know how dangerous it would have been for an older African American man to give a young white woman a ride in Mississippi in 1985. I didn’t know because I never needed to know, but once something like that rises to your consciousness, you see and understand interactions differently.

It is heartening to me that so many European Americans are now ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ how race impacts and often limits people of color’s lives and opportunities.  I have been wracking my brain to try to figure out how and why the death of Mr. Floyd has shaken many white people awake.  What did we as a country see and hear as the life leaked out of Mr. Floyd’s body that opened our eyes and ears to the injustice of racism?  I still do not know, as it was a not unfamiliar scene to most of us.  I only know how grateful I am that a rebellious people can now see and hear.  May God be with us and may we remember God’s way are not our ways as we strive to create a country that sees and hears and values each one of us as a Child of God.


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