“Are you ready?”
My fellow educators reading this will recognize those words as the number one question asked in that August-to-September time period. For myself, this September marked my eleventh year as a Jesuit educator, and after a two-year hiatus I entered back into the classroom to teach Catholic Social Teaching. I received the question, “Are you ready?” several times and amidst my growing anxiety, I would muster up the confidence to give an excited, “Yes!” Now that two weeks have gone by, I realize that maybe a better question could have been asked…”Are you trustworthy?”
At its first hearing, that question may seem off-putting and may launch us into a defensive mood. Is the person questioning my integrity? Do they believe that I will not handle my responsibilities? Are they implying that I am a liar? As I once again stand in front of young developing minds, I question whether I am the one to be leading them in their discernment of Justice. As I instruct them on principles such as “care for the common home” and “option for the poor,” I am reminded of the ways I have served the master of greed and pride, neglected my call to equity, and squandered God’s grace.
However, maybe there is also another way of viewing that question. “Are you trustworthy?” could be less of an indictment and more of a firm reminder of the power we have as stewards of God’s grace. Our individual, social, political, and economic morality can and should be divinely guided and inspired. It appears to me that the problem lies in our inability to trust our worth. Our world was made good and we were made good as well. It is through recognizing our worth that it becomes near impossible to view our brothers and sisters as profitable commodities and expendable cogs. Recognizing and trusting our worth can and should cultivate a deep, purposeful joy. A joy that rises up and transforms our world, ensuring that everyone’s worth is felt, realized, and celebrated. So, I am I trustworthy? Yes, I am, and so are you.
Justin T. White is a theology teacher at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, Maryland.