Editor’s Note: The Lenten season begins this week on Ash Wednesday—March 6, 2019. Please consider joining the Ignatian Solidarity Network throughout the season by subscribing to our free daily Lenten series, Broken: Lent 2019. Subscribe here.
We all know our nation is divided right now—even down to the church. It can make anyone uneasy and cautious about aligning themselves with anything. Even within the world of social justice lately, I find myself approaching everything and everyone with the sentimentality of the Old Testament reading this week. “Praise no one before he speaks, for it is then that people are tested.” From the people I follow on social media, to people I meet in real life—people that I generally respect and find hope in—I feel as though I’m just waiting for them to fail. To say the slightest thing wrong and make me want to distance myself from them.
It also makes me uneasy sharing my thoughts, opinions, or knowledge with others because if I’m bringing this judgemental attitude into our interaction then they must be too—right?
But, of course, this is dangerous. It doesn’t allow for error, it doesn’t allow for humanity, connection, or growth. This attitude that I’ve had is preventing me from experiencing the richness of other people. It has prevented me from discussing real issues and making real moves with people who have the same mission and goals as I do. It has especially prevented me from venturing outside of my comfort zone to speak with those who may have different views than me.
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus essentially says “hold up, hold up, hold up—take a good hard look at yourself.” It was a necessary reminder for me to remove the plank—the 2×4—from my own eye. Divisiveness is no good. Communion is the work of God. If I remove my judgemental plank and approach everyone as an image and likeness of God who is forgiving and genuinely good, I can find ways of communion with them. Through communication, we can lead each other to growth. I know that they are good people and, as Jesus says: “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Lena Chapin is the development director for Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from John Carroll University, she spent a year in Immokalee, Florida with the Humility of Mary Volunteer Service. Lena worked for the Ignatian Solidarity Network from 2016-2022.