As some of you know, I have two homes really. Five days a week I live and work here at St. Isidore, and two days, usually Thursday and Friday, I am with my Jesuit brothers at UD Mercy in Detroit.
In my Jesuit community at UD Mercy, a big institutional house of about 20 guys, there are trivial issues that can drive us apart. Things like how strong we make the coffee, and what lights we turn on or off in our living room—perhaps not entirely unlike some of the trivial things that can make married life challenging. The sad thing, though, as one of my Jesuit brothers has very astutely observed, is that we are often unwilling, for various reasons, to even discuss these things as a community.
I encounter something similar here regarding more serious issues. The child abuse scandals and the MeToo movement have opened our eyes to abuse of all kinds against children, women, and sometimes even men. Yet even now, I have discovered that there are some circumstances in which these issues cannot be discussed.
Issues that cannot be discussed break my heart, whether at my home here in Macomb or my home in Detroit. But in reflecting more on this, I have observed that if we are patient, something can happen that suddenly opens up the possibility of discussion.
In my Jesuit community, it was an email that our superior sent to all 20 of us, speaking of a certain malaise in our community. Myself and some others took offense at this remark, but the Jesuit I mentioned in the second paragraph saw an opportunity. He said, “Great, let’s have the conversations that I’ve been wanting to have for the last 3 years!” I hope and pray that this happens.
There was a similar thing in recent world affairs. For at least a year and a half now, thousands of people have been starving in Yemen, while the country is being bombarded heavily by neighboring Saudi Arabia. But hardly anyone in the world seemed willing to even talk about this travesty. Then one thing happened that started to open people’s eyes—the sensational story of Jamal Khashoggi, the man who was assassinated at the Saudi embassy in Turkey. Now, suddenly, some of our own congresspersons are talking about what’s happening in Yemen, and our own complicity in it. Sadly, it took one high profile assassination to open the world’s eyes to the plight of many thousands of ordinary poor people. Needless to say, there is a very long way to go to fully address this situation.
So, whether it is something happening in my own family or parish, or in our country or world, sometimes we have to look for those moments, and pray for the grace to seize upon those opportunities, when we can discuss the undiscussable.