In this morning’s newspaper, I read that a bridge over the Mississippi River has collapsed in downtown Minneapolis, causing the deaths of seven people, the injury to several more, and a major problem in the traffic of the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
In Rome, I have many times crossed stone bridges built over the Tiber about the time of Christ. And in southern France, I have walked along the Pont du Gard, a stone aqueduct which towers over the river there and was built, again, about the time of Our Lord to bring water from springs of fresh water to the Roman encampments nearby. Neither the two-thousand year old bridges over the Tiber nor the Pont du Gard have collapsed. And yet this one in Minneapolis, built certainly no more than 50 years ago, has fallen into the river beneath, killing a number of people. Why? The answer, of course, is quality. When construction is of high quality, it stands. When it is of low quality, it falls. And beneath the concept of quality lie the more basic qualities of justice and charity. If the builders want to make the greatest profit on their work and care nothing about the people whom they are supposed to be serving, they will skimp as much as possible on the materials and workmanship and charge as high a price as they can.
What about us? Are we men and women of quality? Do we bring to all that we do an honest concern for those whom we serve? Do we do unto others as we would have them do unto us? If not, then we are contemptible. Every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, we call God “Our Father.” But if he is our father, then we are brothers and sisters. And if we are brothers and sisters, then—to answer the cynical question of Cain way back at the beginning of the human race—YES, we ARE our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. And one day, we will be judged upon how we treated our brothers and sisters in this vast human race of ours. With quality? Or with shoddiness so as to put more money into our bank accounts—money that might well be stained with blood? Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.