One hallmark of a Jesuit education is providing our students with the opportunity to encounter the “other” and experience true Grace.
It happens in the streets while serving food to those who hunger, not just for sustenance, but for community.
It happens in the schools while playing with little ones, helping to safeguard their innocence in a sometimes cold and harsh world.
It happens in the community garden while turning over earth, hoping to turn over the perception of a community long forgotten by trickle-down economics.
It happens in the modest living rooms of host families abroad who welcome delegations from our universities, tearing down borders physically and spiritually.
It is in these Grace-filled interactions at the margins, often unscripted and unfiltered, and that our hearts are broken open and filled up with just a bit more of humanity.
However, when we travel to the margins we must make sure that we do not bring the tools and ideologies that set those margins up in the first place. Though we, lovers of social justice, do not orchestrate the powerful moments in which those we serve are transfigured into beacons of hope…we must make sure we do not take more than what we give. With God at our side, we must discern our commitment to Justice in a way that makes sure the “jugs of oil” do not run dry and the “jars of flour” do not go empty. We, who are in places of privilege and power, owe our brothers and sisters; for they bear the burden of reminding us of how crippling our systems can be. Maintaining our ego of being “social justice doers” must never take the place of recognizing that it was those on the margins that received the Good News first. Our programs and initiatives which often become “sanctuaries made by hands” are indicators of our willingness to act. However, they can never be a substitute for our unwavering belief that only by working with and through God will Justice be fully delivered. Along with our resources, our advocacy, our accompaniment, and our presence, we must bring the Joy of our unfaltering Faith to the margins. Hope is reciprocal, and allows us to say confidently to each other, “Do not be afraid.”
Justin T. White is a theology teacher at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, Maryland.