In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus’ relatives hear about what he is up to and assert: “He is out of his mind.”
Jesus did things that were unpopular, unconventional, and unacceptable in the prevailing systems of power. He threatened the status quo. So, though we can, thousands of years later, reverence Jesus as fully human and fully divine, I’m sure that, at that time, the narrative—“He is out of his mind”—was not altogether uncommon.
Nearly two years ago, I became involved in Showing Up for Racial Justice, an organization that organizes white communities to dismantle white supremacy. I came to activities whenever I could, including canvasses. Canvassing—going door-to-door to have conversations—is a highly powerful organizing strategy. And it terrifies me. Though I don’t consider myself to be hugely socially anxious, canvassing evokes feelings of fear and apprehension. The first time I canvassed, every pair of stairs seemed like quicksand. I would have been relieved to be swallowed up. When my family and friends heard what I was up to, they (unlike Jesus’ relatives) thought it was great. I, however, was thinking: “Am I out of my mind?” I was consistently choosing to do something uncomfortable and scary. Did I need to?
The short answer is an unequivocal yes.
As a white woman, I can skirt around conversations on racism with no trouble. I need to lean into them. Being uncomfortable tells me: “You’re pushing against the status quo and systems of power; you’re attempting to acknowledge and dismantle structures that have advantaged you and dehumanized so many.” It’s uncomfortable—and necessary. And I recognize that, yes, we will make mistakes, but with accountability to people of color and as people of faith, we need to keep going.
Josie Diebold is a graduate of Canisius College (2009) and a former Jesuit Volunteer (Houston 09-10, Syracuse 10-11). She is currently a PhD student at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work and is also a member of the leadership team for Buffalo, NY’s chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice. Josie enjoys being an aunt to three awesome kiddos and doing cross fit, in addition to running, swimming, and biking (all very slowly).