The following homily was given at the Sunday, Dec. 3, Mass in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas by the Rev. Jeffrey Huard, director of Campus Ministry.
In his address, Huard reflects on the “dragon” of prejudice that surfaced on campus this semester in the form of religious and cultural harassment suffered by a St. Thomas Muslim student.
Students, staff and faculty are reminded of a community forum on this subject that will be held from 12:30 to 1 p.m. this Thursday, Dec. 14, in the auditorium of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center. A second forum will be held early next semester, from noon to 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2001, also in the auditorium.
Slaying the Dragon
Much of the Scripture that precedes and begins Advent is apocalyptic in nature. Graphic scenes are drawn of stars falling in darkening skies, the earth shaking, and the Son of Man coming on the clouds. We will also hear, from the book of Revelation, the description of a fierce dragon searching for a mother and her child to sweep them from the earth.
The dragon reflects not only external danger and threat, but primarily the darkness that can lurk within each of us. The call of the Christian is to slay the dragon within and repel evil around us.
In my years at St. Thomas, I have too often heard of ugly things done or said on our campus. The dragon lurks within us and our community. It rejoices in prejudice; in comments and actions against others because of color, race, sexual orientation; and most recently in offensive statements made to Jews or Muslims about their religious beliefs.
The Catholic Church considers such behavior to be immoral. Pope John Paul II has gone to great lengths to witness Christian love to all people. He has won the esteem of both Jew and Muslim alike. The pope stands as a tremendous model. To be truly Christ on campus, to be light and not darkness, to be love and not hate, is the demand of God, and so the church.
Let us together slay the dragon of sin and disrespect that would openly or covertly denigrate other people. Our university is based on moral truth, truth the Catholic Church carefully guards. The experience of those who encounter Christians is meant to be one of extraordinary love. An experience of hate or disrespect from Christians to non-Christians is a disgrace to the cross of Christ.
This year as Christmas, Hanukkah and Ramadan all align on the calendar we are blessed to have on campus a number of Jewish and Muslim students who want to express their deeply held faith. They should experience in our environment welcome, respect and freedom.