The Structural Sin of Racism Rends the Body of Christ

The Structural Sin of Racism Rends the Body of Christ July 20, 2016

(Imagen venerada en la Parroquia Santa Rosa del Callao - Perú, author: Jbermejoaspergueta; Wikimedia, CC by SA-3.0
(St. Martin de Porres statue in Santa Rosa del Callao parish in Perú, author: Jbermejoaspergueta; Wikimedia, CC by SA-3.0)

Anyone with the slightest sensitivity…cannot fail to recognize the nature of National Socialism: naturalistic, antagonistic to the things of the spirit, and based on a materialism of blood….The deeds of the National Socialists truly correspond to the spirit of the Antichrist.

–Dietrich Von Hildebrand, My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich

As anyone who knows me well enough will be able to tell you when asked, I am indeed very passionate (perhaps even obsessed) when it comes to the subject of particular social sins and the structures which inform them. But, among them all, the subject of the social sin and vice, which is racism, would have to be number one.

I have to admit that writing this article is somewhat difficult for me in light of current events amidst the social climate of mimetic rivalry that, like a malignant tumor, has metastasized and destroyed any semblance of charity in the hearts of many. But alas, ignoring it will not resolve the matter, for it will only continue to grow more invasive permeating the hearts and minds of generations to come until any semblance of hope and charity on a natural level will be but a fantastical illusion. It is for this reason that I sincerely believe that in cooperation with God’s grace we can at most provide a world for our children (and in the process ourselves) that is not only kinder, but attests to the reality of Love’s kingdom immanent in our midst, that Christ may be all in all.

I do not operate under the delusion that this task will be simple, or free of suffering for the Christian vocation in and of itself exists in a paradoxical tension of joy amidst suffering. Nevertheless it is my hope that in some way my small and hopefully humble contribution to the task will testify to the reality that God’s Love Wins, having conquered Death by death, ransoming and giving life to those entombed by sin. But as stated previously, we cannot accomplish this end apart from Christ, or devoid of His grace. For it is not merely to call upon the name of Jesus as a mere vague abstraction, but to hear and heed His voice enfleshed at our centers, and in our fellow man. Fr. Thomas Merton put it best when he said the following in Seeds of Destruction:

He is inviting us to understand him as necessary to our own lives, and as completing them. He is warning us that we cannot do without him, and that if we insist on regarding him as an enemy, an object of contempt, or a rival, we will perhaps sterilize and ruin our own lives. He is telling us that unless we can enter into a vital and Christian relationship with him, there will be hate, violence and civil war indeed: and from this violence perhaps none of us will emerge whole.

Within the Christian tradition the premise informing racial prejudice is as odious and loathsome as it is, for it does not seek to love the “I” of one’s neighbor in accord with the co-humanity of Christ-Jesus who is the universal, all-human, all-personal “I”, but rather in accord with a conditional “I” that loves not the “I” of the”other”, but rather the false “I” of oneself. In turn man never truly manages to achieve that ontological imperative to love himself, know himself, and see himself in the “other”. Rather he contents himself with his own narcissism denying the mono-hypostatic, pan-hypostatic, divine-human multi-unity achieved in and through the Incarnation of the Word. By extension the “other” and his distinct accidental attributes are essentialized to such a degree that he is subordinated as an ontological “other” who does not share in a common and redeemed human nature with him and to whom the trihypostatic debt of love is not owed. In short, iconoclasm.

But alas this is nothing new, or to be surprised of, for this rivalry amongst brothers has been with us since the dawn of time. Cain driven by an irrational hatred for his brother severed all charity in his heart when he in turn murdered his brother Abel. Upon the LORD making inquiry of the whereabouts of Abel, Cain in turn responded with “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and thus fratricide was born. Now, the well meaning Christian in rightly rejecting the premise of racism counters with the claim that our fellow man is an icon of Christ, and as such there is no room for such a vice to be tolerated. However, well meaning as it may be, I have often found (at least from my own personal failings and observation) that this is oft employed as a mere rhetorical abstraction without much thought given to the implications of such a statement.

It is not enough to merely proclaim it with one’s lips, because after all, any literate person could pick up a text on the subject of the Incarnation and make that very declaration. But rather it must come from a truly radical and sacramental vision of the world wherein we not only recognize our own Sonship in Christ but in turn lead a life that reflects our intimate relationship with the Father:

26For you are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you be Christ’s, then are you the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.- Galatians 3: 26-29

As such, this statement goes beyond mere natural brotherhood, but in turn makes it divine, conforming us to the very Eucharistic sacrament of which we partake of. For in our consumption of Christ within the Blessed Sacrament, not only does He give of Himself to us blood, body, soul and divinity, and we of ourselves to Him (and in turn He returns what we have given Him of ourselves within an infinite loop (For further reading please consult my friend Henry’s article on the subject), but we likewise partake of and receive of all mankind of which He has deemed meet to draw unto Himself. This is indeed a mystery which goes well beyond our comprehension, but one which nevertheless impresses upon us that in Christ all have been made worthy by grace, regardless of race, sex, or station in life to be declared Sons of the Father.

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