Today a great American (and a Christian) gave this speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. 47 years ago:
August 28 is also the Feast of St. Moses the Black (also known as Moses the Ethiopian):
Born about AD 330, this former slave, thief and murderer died in AD 405. He became a monk in Egypt after taking shelter at a monastery while fleeing authorities. A favorite story about St. Moses occurred when his fellow monks asked Moses to come to an assembly to judge the fault of a certain brother. He refused. When they insisted, he filled a basket which had a hole in it with sand. Carrying it on his shoulders, he went to the assembly. When asked what the basket might mean, he answered, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and I am come this day to judge failings which are not mine.” His fellow monks immediately forgave their erring brother.
One cannot help but compare the realities of MLK and St. Moses. On one hand we have a country that professes to be a land that recognizes the unalienable rights of every human person because they have been created equal and have been endowed by their creator with these unalienable rights. Yet this same country has suffered the blatant inequality of its peoples. It has tolerated slavery, it has tolerated institutionalized racism, it continues to tolerate the eradication of unwanted babies and throws the epithet of racist around like a tennis ball. On the other hand, the Church has been celebrating this black African saint for centuries. Given that within the synaxarion one can also find St. Peter the Aleut:
and St. Mitrophan of Beijing:
among other saints from the brilliant rainbow of peoples throughout the world, the Church is way ahead of the United States — arguably the most liberty and equality loving country in history. Indeed, within the context of the Church Universal, one can see King’s dream become a reality.