Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 12 June |
Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
home iconNews
line break icon

At the Barricades in Ferguson

Gabriel Bouys AFP

Edward Mulholland - published on 08/20/14 - updated on 06/07/17

Javert is the man of natural virtue, of natural justice. He quells the riot because it is the right thing to do.  But he will not cut any slack for a community that lives in the grip of poverty. He serves order, but he looks down on the rabble around him. He doesn’t feel he has anything in common with them. His authority is feared rather than respected.

What has yet to emerge from the Ferguson riots is a powerful voice that transcends the shouts of “my good” and “my truth,” calling all involved to give up their individual claims on the truth in order to embrace “the first truth and supreme good.”  That is not easy in a country that increasingly believes that religion should stay in one’s house and not emerge onto the streets. Well, this is what relativism looks like on the streets, and it is ugly.

I have only driven through St. Louis. I do not know the lay of the land. I am also pretty darn white. I can only begin to imagine the experience of growing up black in American or anywhere else. But, as the Roman poet Terence said, “I am a human being, nothing human is foreign to me.”

Only mercy and forgiveness on both sides will get us anywhere.  Javert couldn’t handle mercy. He couldn’t give it and, when it was shown to him, it drove him to suicide.  His problem was he stopped at the stars, the natural order of things, which are all ordered to God above. Unless we willingly go beyond our truth and our good to God who is the first truth and the supreme good, we will forever remain barricaded inside our shackled hearts.

I don’t know exactly what message Cardinal Rigali will deliver on August 24. But Pope Francis exhorts us all to go beyond the natural order, even beyond narrowly conceived justice, to the grace and mercy of God himself, beyond the riots, beyond the barricades, beyond the stars.

Dr. Edward Mulhollandis Assistant Professor of Classical and Modern Languages at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. 

  • 1
  • 2
Pope Francis
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Lucandrea Massaro
This 3D “carbon copy” of Jesus was created using the ...
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
Daniel Esparza
Were Jesus and Joseph really carpenters?
Philip Kosloski
Offer your heart to Jesus with this prayer
Kathleen N. Hattrup
3 three-word prayers to turn your day around
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.