An Alternative Universe

11-26-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

If you feel like you are living in an alternative universe, your perception is spot on. What we are being surrounded by is an inversion of the basic concepts of right and wrong and the complete leveling of the meritocracy. Discussion and debate have been replaced by denunciation. Reason and Truth are derided as tools of the oppressor. The idea of a color-blind society has been replaced by race obsession, persuasion with public shaming and the rule of law replaced by the fury of a mob. So, individuals no longer rise to positions of leadership or authority based on their abilities, gifts, talents, accomplishments, hard work, or contributions to a community but rather based on their oppressed status or disadvantages as defined by radical activists.

This is why recently at Arizona State University, a group of Jewish students had to leave a building on ASU’s campus with their Rabbi, with a police escort back to their Chabad house. What was supposed to be a civil discussion between Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian students ended with threats of violence and death and rocks being thrown at the building. The Jewish students were the target. No discussion just denunciation, no rule of law just the fury of the mob. A generation taught how to tear down but not how to build up.

The outbreak of antisemitism across much of the West is shocking and sickening. But it is very real and very dangerous. It feels like we have been transported back to late 1930’s Germany: scapegoat the Jews, denounce them, dehumanize them, demonize them so violence against them can be justified. How many of their German Christian neighbors stayed silent as they saw their neighbors persecuted, denied jobs and education, harassed in the streets, forced to wear a yellow star of David? I am sure their excuse would be “we just didn’t want any trouble, so we stayed silent”. Thank goodness, we know the stories and have the example and inspiration of those who acted, hid Jews, and secretly worked to undermine the “final solution” of the Third Reich. Jews call them righteous Gentiles; we call many of them saints.

The descent into de-civilization is happening rapidly. And it can turn very ugly, very bloody, very quickly. So be prepared. Know who you are and what your values are, don’t accept the propaganda of hate, stand against it. Act now. Call your Jewish friends and neighbors and tell them you support them and stand with them against the hate and violence directed at them and will walk with them through this dark time. I hope the Catholic student organizations at ASU, who I helped for many years during my time in Tempe, will find ways to show solidarity with their Jewish classmates.

As we, as the Church, head into Advent, we will hear repeatedly from the Prophet Isaiah, who reminds us that God chose the Jews to bring us the gift of salvation through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. And He is Savior for the whole world, for all peoples. He broke down the divisions among us and unites us together. During Advent the towering figure of Mary reminds us of the young Jewish girl who said yes to God for the sake of all people. It was her son, who absorbed all the violence and hatred of the world and showed a new way for the human family to live together. We who are His disciples must continue His mission of reconciliation.

Pope John Paul II always referred to the Jews as our “elder brothers”. If that is so, are we being our brother’s keeper?


Fr. John B.