He looked everywhere: in physical and sensual pleasure, in the highest pursuits of intellectual life and much more. He eventually realized that the most essential element and dynamic for life is love: love is the power behind all that we are as human beings, precisely because we are made for and by love; love that is the creating, redeeming and enlivening communion of persons we name as God; love that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit; love that is forever offering itself to the other. Augustine discovered after his search that the only way we get things right and finally find happiness is by learning to love as God loves, placing ourselves in this dependable presence and under this loving gaze of the one who knows us better than we know ourselves.
The second person we honor today is Martin Luther King Jr. Fifty-five years ago today Dr. King delivered his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech to almost a quarter of a million people gathered in front of the monument to Abraham Lincoln in our nation’s capital. Dr. King, like Augustine, was also involved in the pursuit of happiness, but primarily in the pursuit of happiness for others, a happiness that was not available to African Americans in our country, and likewise now to so many in our community kept on the margins, suffering from ‘anti-loving’, from racism and from our society’s pervasive dispassionate selfishness. Dr. King embraced God’s dream for the unity of all people: he had a dream that sprang up in a world where too many are “…living on the lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity”. He had a dream so compelling that there would be no satisfaction “…until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
St. Augustine and Martin Luther King Jr.: two incredible human beings we remember and celebrate today. They both urge us to assist God in the healing of this world. They urge us to love. They captured the essence of our school motto Caritas Christi urget nos: the love of Christ urges us, but not love as a feeling but love as an action. Love as the way God acts toward us; love as the way God calls us to act toward one another, with power to change the worldone kind word or action at a time. We heard all about this love from St. Paul in our reading this morning, and Jesus said: Do this - do love - and you will live. Amen.
Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream” (speech, Washington, DC, August 28, 1963), America Rhetoric,http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm.
Barbara Brown Taylor, “The Right Answer” (homily, New York, July 14, 2013), The Riverside Church Sermons, https://www.spreaker.com/user/riversidenyc/the-right-answer