Monday, January 18, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
On this day when we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we must continue his real work and not the counterfeits which seek to leech upon his memory.
On this day when we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we must continue his real work and not the counterfeits which seek to leech upon his memory. There is no doubt that any positive or civil law which protects the killing of our youngest neighbor, the child in the womb, is an unjust law. It must be opposed and resisted.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - On 16 April 1963 one of our greatest Americans, a Christian man who understood the fundamental truth that all men and women are endowed by God the Creator with inalienable rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, wrote what is one of my favorite of his writings.
Entitled after the fact a “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” it was addressed to “My Fellow Clergymen.” It reads as a manifesto for every Christian, and especially Clergy, who understand the obligation we have to stand for authentic Social Justice. As a Clergyman, a Deacon of the Catholic Church, I prayerfully read it every year during this important American holiday.
Even the salutation speaks volumes. He wrote to “My Fellow Clergymen”. He engaged in this work because he was called by God. Reverend Dr. King was unjustly imprisoned at the time of the writing of this letter for defending the fundamental human rights of every single human person. I say HUMAN rights because these rights have their source in our identity as human persons created in the Image of God. The Government did not grant them and cannot take them away.
Without any fear of being considered “too religious”, he defended his position with a vibrant Christian witness. Because we are all human persons, we have human rights. The source of those rights is God the Creator, in whose Image we have been fashioned. Civil Rights, as important as they may be, are the domain of the State. And, as is obvious from Dr. King’s imprisonment, are not always justly enforced or protected. It is Human Rights which were the subject of his heroism. They are ours because we have received them from God.The first among them is the right to life itself.
He wrote this jailhouse letter when he was the President of a CHRISTIAN group: “I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights.”
It was his Christian faith, as a follower of Jesus Christ whom St Paul called the “New Man”, that Dr. King wrote this letter. It was because of his faith in Jesus Christ that he had the courage to live his heroic life and suffer his martyr’s death.