'Be a part of the response,' says Sister M. Antona Ebo

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For Sister Mary Antona Ebo, the question of getting involved in social justice is answered in Matthew 25: 31-46 when Jesus replies: "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me."
"We have a responsibility to speak up and become a part of that response," said the Franciscan Sister of Mary who is well known for her own response.
In 1965, on what became known as "Bloody Sunday," she was working at St. Mary's Infirmary when Alabama troopers attacked blacks trying to march from Selma to Montgomery in support of voting rights. In response to an appeal from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to join a protest march in Selma, the Archdiocese of St. Louis sent the single largest group, a delegation of 51.
Six women religious working in the archdiocese, including Sister Antona, were among the group and were asked to lead the March 10 march that followed the one that ended in violence three days earlier. Sister Antona also spoke at the march and addressed the media.
"If we are talking about being Christians, there are so many ways in which Jesus talks about justice, how we can treat one another. And as we treat one another, we treat Jesus," she said.
Today, she noted, prayers are needed for unity because the nation is divided.
"If we are in prayer together we won't be tearing each other apart," she said.
Even corporations see the importance of unity, she said, with the frequent refrain being heard from their leaders that "we all want to be on the same page."
Jesus' final prayer, she noted, was "that they may all be one."
Citing the Gospels, Sister Antona asked, "How can we say we love God when we don't love the neighbor right next to us?"
God is calling people to walk justly with Him, Sister Antona added. Her own experience 45 years ago in Selma "is not about me," she said. "It's about the work of the Holy Spirit."
She asks people to remember as they break bread together that "there are those who have no bread, no shelter..."
God is love, Sister Antona added. "And if we are talking about God's love, it has to be just." She also recalled the words of Pope Paul VI that "if you really want peace, work for justice."
Celebrating and respecting each other's differences also is important, Sister Antona said. "If we see one another as sisters and brothers, how can we not want to work for justice and peace?"

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