The Call to Listen

BY JULIA MURPHY | September 24, 2018
Sunday’s Readings

“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

Jesus’ words in this Sunday’s Gospel sound familiar to those of us who have grown up within the Christian tradition. We’ve heard this passage so many times that it’s easy for us to mindlessly listen to or read it without much thought about how it applies to our lives as Christians who seek justice.  

In the second reading, James says, “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.”

As a young white woman close to obtaining a university degree, I recognize the immense social privileges I have been granted. Driven by my faith and desire for a more equitable world, I seek to promote equality and justice in my lifestyle, work, and activities. Even so, where do I let “selfish ambition” take over and place my own ego and desire to be known as a “social justice warrior” to those around me above the struggle for justice itself—as the disciples in the Gospel are tempted to do when discussing who amongst them is the “greatest?”

For those of us social justice-oriented folks who have privileged identities, whether they be our race, gender identity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religion, or citizenship status, Jesus calls us to “check ourselves,” so to speak, when entering spaces occupied by the marginalized in our society. Although we might be tempted to think that our ideas about how to solve social evils of police brutality, violence against the trans* community, or anti-immigrant and refugee rhetoric, let us remember to lead first by listening rather than by speaking. Because, as Jesus and James remind us, it’s never about each of our “passions” individually, especially those of us with privilege, but it is about the common struggle for love and justice for all.

3 replies
  1. Jill Hanson
    Jill Hanson says:

    such a beautiful reflection on the gospel and reading from St. James. Really hits home for me.

  2. Matthew Salamon
    Matthew Salamon says:

    Excellent reflection on the importance of listening, primarily as a means to understand. Thank you for sharing these thoughts!


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