Challenged to Grow
BY LENA CHAPIN | August 26, 2019
This week’s gospel has me doing work!
You see, I often like to view myself as a person in the room reclining with Jesus, Abraham, and the like—which is where I believe the “someone” in this gospel expected to be as well. But will I be?
It’s easy to think, especially in my social justice focused life, that I love my neighbor; I value difference; I have a preferential option for the poor and oppressed.
It’s easy to think that this Gospel story isn’t preaching to me. That I hear the message. I have learned it. I’ve taken it to heart. But how well have I?
We compare ourselves to the Pharisees, and to the Pharisees of our day, and say to ourselves “well shoot I’m way better about caring for people than they are.”
But in Sunday’s reading, Jesus wasn’t preaching to the Pharisees. He was preaching to the people, the regular folks along his journey.
Perhaps they had gathered because they were curious. Perhaps they had been following him for years. Perhaps it was people just like you or I asking “will only a few be saved?” (a question I too have asked many times when trying to understand my faith and the various teachings of Christian denominations).
It’s easy to get caught in the selfishness and insulation of thinking you’re right or on the right path and to push away anyone who challenges you.
But we need challenge in order to grow. Everyone does.
Jesus challenges us not to get caught up in our own righteousness or our projected and limited image of what God’s kingdom looks like. He challenges us to not to assume that because we ate and drank in God’s company to assume that we’re good to go.
Jesus challenges us to strive—to challenge ourselves—to grow more radically in compassion and understanding.
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.
Challenge and counter-challenge – can bring out the best in us.