In John’s Gospel, directly preceding today’s reading, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Enter our reading. The people in charge have had enough: it’s time to stone Jesus because he’s chosen to cast his lot with the “out crowd,” the marginalized members in the community. He stands with the poor, not with the power and authority of the dominant oppressor.
I work at a dialysis unit in the Bronx meeting with patients struggling through their dialysis treatment. None of them are white. All of them are poor. They’ve played the game of life with structural disadvantages and discrimination at every checkpoint. Now dependent on a machine for life, they exclaim the presence of Jesus who rescues—who continues to cast his lot with them.
Sitting with them, I can’t help but wonder who I am in the story. More times than not, I’m the one throwing the stone, making their burdens worse. My judgments and prejudices remain hidden from sight, yet, I’m haunted by my privilege. I’m the one who needs them, it’s not the other way around. While they try to prolong death with one more dialysis treatment, I’m called to conversion—to hear his voice amidst a hope that eludes my privilege. I’m called to stand where Jesus is standing. For as Jesus knew so intimately, it is when I stand with the out crowd that I’m one step closer to the Kingdom of God.
- Who do I stand with in my community? Where do I cast my lot? Who do I direct stones at in my community?
- How do my brothers and sisters facing discrimination and racial injustice call me to conversion?
- How am I invited to help build the Kingdom of God?
Lucas Sharma, S.J., is a Jesuit-in-formation of the Jesuits West Province and a student at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. Previously, he taught sociology at Seattle University. He is especially interested in the intersection between diversity, equity, inclusion, and Jesuit Catholic identity and mission. When not studying, Lucas loves to cook and watch the soap opera General Hospital.