Bishop Hughes talks about how intentionally engaging in awareness months - Pride month, which is now; Black History Month in February; Asian American Pacific Islander Awareness Month in May; Hispanic Heritage Month in mid-September through mid-October; and Native American Indigenous People Awareness Month in November - can teach us how to live our Baptismal Covenant. (Time: 4:41.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. And I want to talk with you about what we do regarding the awareness months in our diocese, and why we do it.
It's very simple. I've asked every parish in our diocese to determine the way that they want to honor, explore, learn, live into five awareness months every year. That's Black History Month in February; it's Asian American Pacific Islander Awareness Month in May; it is Pride Month in June – it happens to be June right now, but that month where we celebrate our, our siblings who are LGBTQ+, and become more aware of their presence in our lives; it is Hispanic Heritage Month in mid-September through mid-October; and then in November, Native American Indigenous People Awareness Month. So those five months – certainly any parish can do more than those – but those five months I've asked us to intentionally take a look at in our congregations.
And there's a reason that we do this, it is drawn directly out of the greatest commandment which you can find within our Baptismal Covenant. So it's our two holiest books that are focused on this one thing that Jesus says, and that is to love our neighbor as ourselves. And as our neighbor has encompassed more and more people, that sometimes we have to be intentional about figuring out how do we do that. So in our Baptismal Covenant, we say that we're going to seek and serve Christ and all people, that means of all cultures. And we've picked these particular ones that we're going to pay attention to, because they're built into our system. We're certainly not limited to that. And we're going to get to know them and love them as our neighbors.
There's another piece to this, also found in our Baptismal Covenant, and that is that we're looking for justice for all of God's people. That the dignity of all of God's people is important to us, because it's important to God. That God created every facet of creation, every single person, every single culture, and called it good. And so when we spend time in these awareness months, it actually draws us more closely to each other, and draws us more closely to who God has called us to be. As people who know that we are good and that our siblings are good, – whether our sibling looks like us, talks like us, acts like us or not.
Our awareness months aren't simply learning about somebody else, it is actually loving somebody else. It is cherishing them, cherishing them as the beloved person of God that they are. And along the way, as we cherish them, we also care for them. We want the same safety for them, we want the same justice for them, we want the same goodness for them. And that again goes back to that first commandment to love our neighbors, the way we love ourselves. We want for them what we have for ourselves.
It's a very important thing for us to take this time during these awareness months, because all of the groups that I have suggested to us are groups that in some way, shape or form, are feeling the complication of a dangerous time in which certain groups are being looked at, in ways that are hurtful. That people look to be violent with them, to lash out at them. So that sense of our being aware also helps other people to be safe, to be cared for, and helps to create a world where we're all looking for people to be honored and loved and cherished.
So I offer this to you as a way to approach the awareness months yourselves. To approach it in your parish, but also to approach it as an individual. As God brings people across your path, especially people who are different from yourself, know that God is giving us the opportunity to love, to cherish, to honor, and respect that person. And one of the ways we do that is to be aware of their presence, and to get to know them. Take some time. Enjoy these awareness months. It will be a blessing to you and to somebody else.