Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

We are all a mixture of origins

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

There seems to be a persistent interest in discovering one’s ancestry through DNA testing. Yet, I have never met anyone who has learned that their ethnic origins are singular. Rather, when people receive testing results, they see a certain percentage of their DNA has its origins in this part of the world, and another portion of their genetic material may come from another, and another and another. In other words, all of humanity is a mixture of ethnicities and origins. That scientifically demonstrated truth should challenge anyone who may think that they belong to a superior or pure race, let alone those who look down on people of other backgrounds and races. When it comes to human beings, no one is  “purebred.” To be human is to be of diverse origins.

Unfortunately, racism, antisemitism, indeed bigotry of every kind seem to be on the rise in our country and the world. For example, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that in 2021, hate crimes jumped by about 20% in the United States, as compared to the prior year. The center also found that in the first half of 2022, U.S. hate crimes rose by about 4% — marking the fourth straight year that hate crimes have increased. Surely, such evil is born out of ignorance, but also fear. Bigotry is not something we are born with. It’s something we learn. Some fear that when people who are different from them thrive, it somehow diminishes who they are or threatens their security, as though the success of one kind of person requires the failure of another. But that is a false choice.

As we move through the season of Advent, we are called to heed the message of the Christ child, who comes to undermine such fear and ignorance, reminding us that the diversity of humanity is a blessing, indeed it is God’s will. After all, we proclaim Jesus to be of a mixed origin, fully human and fully divine. He is true God and true man, as we profess in the creed. God did not look on humanity and choose to avoid it because of its sinfulness or difference. No, God chose to become fully human in Jesus Christ, such is the depth of his love for us.

Christmas comes as a moment to fully appreciate that our complex genetic origins form a web of relationships that connect us inextricably to one another. This is one of God’s gifts to humanity, a blessing, not a threat, underscoring the surpassing truth that just as the Son of God becomes a member of the human race and shares in our humanity, he gives us a share in his divinity.

May this Christmas season bring us closer to that truth, helping all of us to appreciate, with the eyes of God, the richness and diversity of the human family.