“Hold on class,” my sophomore theology teacher said, as we all began to pack up. “You should consider attending the Arrupe Leaders Summit, a program run by the Ignatian Solidarity Network that allows students from Jesuit high schools to share ideas and resources about social justice. Come see me for more information.”
Uninterested in this program and excited about lunch next period, I was headed to the cafeteria until my teacher stopped me at the door. He thought this program would be beneficial for me and recommended that I attend. While unenthusiastic about going, I decided to take his advice and try something new.
Little did I know, the Arrupe Leaders Summit would spark my passion for social justice. Never having been formally introduced to social justice, I dove in head first. I quickly became overwhelmed with the innumerable issues facing the world today and felt hopeless. After all, how could my small efforts make a dent in the grand scheme of things?
In Mark’s Gospel on Sunday, he sheds light on the troubled state of the world that made my efforts feel insignificant. He speaks to the sustained suffering and despair of those marginalized in society and suggests that these injustices will persist until Jesus’ second coming—a grave realization for those working to dismantle these unjust systems.
However, we must realize that God does not expect us to fix everything, which Pedro Arrupe addresses in his Men for Others speech. Arrupe introduces the concept of partial successes, which reinvigorated my passion for justice during a time of hopelessness.
While our efforts to bring about justice may not be fully successful in this life, they are not worthless. Our individual efforts contribute to the end goal of a world full of peace, justice, and solidarity. They are signs of God’s kingdom here on Earth, and a glimpse of what is to come.
Though the world will remain in a state of imperfection until our Lord comes again, we can begin the preparations for him through our fight for social justice. Rather than becoming discouraged by the injustices that afflict our world, we can feel empowered knowing that our partial successes contribute to the transformation of society.
Josie Schuman is a former ISN intern and graduate of John Carroll University. She is currently a member of the Urban Catholic Teacher Corp at Boston College, pursuing a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction while teaching 5th grade English. Josie is passionate about faith-based antiracist education and hopes to inspire students of color to use reading and writing as tool for social change.