Being a parent is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. My wife and I have three sons and we have experienced great joys in raising them so far, but they have not come without lots of effort, struggles, tears, injuries, questions, etc. Amid the challenges, there are signs of hope — a kind act between brothers, an empathetic outreach to a struggling classmate, and deep questions from a kindergartner about the complexities of racism. Each of these gives us a little bit of faith that our boys are part of building God’s Kingdom, despite not knowing exactly when, where, or how it will happen.
While we do not know a tremendous amount about Saint Joseph, we do know that being chosen as the Father of God’s son did not come without its challenges as well. From making sense of Mary’s pregnancy amid conflicting messages from an angel and society to seeking refuge in a manager for Jesus’s birth and fleeing afterward to avoid Herod and the responsibility of raising a child whose prophecy was yet to be fully understood — it had to be hard. Joseph and Mary must have had faith that they were building God’s kingdom in some way, even if they didn’t understand how.
Lent is a time when all the challenges of building God’s Kingdom are out on the table. Throughout the season we are asked to experience Jesus’ struggles in very personal ways. We place ashes on our heads to remind ourselves of his and our humanity. We experience Jesus’ anger as he finds the temple turned into a marketplace. The devil tempts us all during the forty days in the desert. Our faith is tested as we see our own weakness in the acts of betrayal by his disciples. And on Good Friday, we suffer with him as he dies on the cross. Amid all of this, we have faith that something good will come — though we may not always completely understand it.
Building God’s kingdom, as people of justice, is going to be hard. One only has to look at the challenges we face here in the U.S. in creating policies that respect the inherent dignity of all God’s people — the unborn, the incarcerated, the economically poor, the immigrant and refugee, those impacted by the degradation of our Earth and its resource, people of all races, religions, and cultures, people of all sexual orientations, and many more. There is so much pain and suffering at the hands of injustice being experienced across the globe. We have to look for the signs of hope that exist in the world — the acts of compassion we see each day, the voices of prophetic people in our Church and throughout society who speak out for the marginalized, and our own heart’s desire to be witnesses of peace and justice in our world. We may not always understand how these small acts are building God’s Kingdom, but we’ve gotta to have faith.
- What is “hard” about working for a more just world?
- What fuels your faith that a more just world is possible?
Chris joined the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) as executive director in 2011. He has over fifteen years of experience in social justice advocacy and leadership in Catholic education and ministry. Prior to ISN he served in multiple roles at John Carroll University, including coordinating international immersion experience and social justice education programming as an inaugural co-director of John Carroll’s Arrupe Scholars Program for Social Action. Prior to his time at John Carroll he served as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and secondary levels in Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Chris speaks regularly at campuses and parishes about social justice education and advocacy, Jesuit mission, and a broad range of social justice issues. He currently serves on the board of directors for Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ). Chris earned a B.A. and M.A. from John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. He and his family reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.