More Spiritual Reflections

Spiritual Reflections


Creating the Beloved Community

Sr. Maria Rose Kelly, IHM
IHM Center, Scranton, PA
October 22, 2005

The following reflection was delivered by Sr. Maria Rose Kelly, IHM at a liturgy that concluded a day on "Uprooting Racism," held at the IHM Center.

When my brothers and I were little we listened to show tunes - no rock and roll. It was the "golden age of the musical theater" and we listened to and knew "by heart" all the songs from Oklahoma, The King and I, Showboat, The Music Man, South Pacific - wonderful fare for mind and heart!

One song I learned is this sad beauty from South Pacific:

"You've got to be taught to hate and fear, you've got to be taught from year to year, It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear. You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid of people whose eyes are ugly made and people whose skin is a different shade. You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate.

You've got to be carefully taught. You've got to be carefully taught"

The young lieutenant who sang this song was deeply angry and sad that the world and the family he grew up in did teach him this song. And now, in love with a beautiful Polynesian girl, he knew he could never bring her home to Philadelphia - they would never have children together, the girl who had become the meaning of his life was one of the people his relatives both feared and hated.

What a terrible song he and his family had learned.

Today's meetings- UPROOTING RACISM - have been about learning to sing a new song - and the responsorial psalm echoes that call. Sing a new song unto the Lord.

Several years ago I was struck by that psalm. Up to then I thought of it as a sweet and joyful ditty - kind of harmless - happy. But I did have a new light on it.

Sing a new song - a new song - unto the Lord. Stop singing the old songs, the tired songs, and the evil songs.

Sing a new song - a new song. And don't think such learning is easy - or that it can be done on your own without God. It isn't easy. First of all it isn't easy to want to sing a new song. Our old songs are loved ones - and sometimes unfortunately learned by heart.

Why would we want to sing a new one?

And even if we wanted to - it's hard to learn a new song. How many musicians among us have tried to get us to "unlearn" a ending that we had pushed deep in our consciousness. It's easier - if not better - to sing the song the way we've wrongly learned it. And so we do.

So today's meeting and today's readings conspire together to open us to acknowledge the bad songs we've learned and sung over and over again. And the conversion call is there - Sing a new song.

Today's readings and today's meetings conspire together to uproot the old songs and replace them with new ones. Sing a new song

Even Jesus in today's gospel showed the Pharisees that there were more songs to sing about paying taxes than they knew. They thought there were only two tax song: pay or don't. Jesus taught them a new song of discernment and proper rendering: to each his due.

And aren't we all desperately praying that God will guide us and our leaders to a new song that will replace the old war songs from the past? This is surely a work of God - to turn us from war to peace.

Teach us, O God, against our blindness, against our resistance, against our laziness, to sing a new song to You!