“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait.” – Paulo Coelho
I have been reflecting quite a bit on this quote lately, as I watch our country and our world deal with coronavirus. Our way of existing has changed dramatically, as we are called to practice physical distancing for our families and loved ones, and our immediate community which includes our neighbors, as well as our occupations. As teachers, we’ve been called to continue to deliver on our Ignatian tenet of Cura Personalis, care for the whole person, via new methods of online learning protocols and digital wellness checks. On top of all that, we are still learning every day about the devastation that is caused by coronavirus while praying for a medical intervention that will return us to what we understand as a normal way of life. We did not expect this challenge or the changes to our lifestyles to beset upon us so quickly. However, now faced with this battle, will we as a nation and a world respond with the requisite courage and willingness to change. As the quote above states, “there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait.”
At the crux of our ability to succeed is our ability to stay true to our faith in the love and grace of God. Today’s reading begins with the ominous statement:
The wicked said among themselves,
thinking not aright:
“Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the LORD.
The wicked have conspired to attack the piety and character of a just person. They question his actions, his words, and his professed faith in the Lord and sought to poke holes in his faith. However, as we continue through the passage and their angst only grows, we can rejoice in their mistakes:
These were their thoughts, but they erred;
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they knew not the hidden counsels of God;
neither did they count on a recompense of holiness
nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.
This is our challenge in these troubling times: to hold on to our faith. Faith is often described as a fervent belief in an abstract concept or idea. However, for me, I have chosen to lean on the teachings of St. Ignatius, who calls us “to find God in all things.” My spirits have been lifted as I hear of the heroic effort our medical community is displaying in the care for those that have fallen ill and their willingness to step up even when their resources are limited. I am awed by both my colleagues and our students at Loyola High School, who have dramatically pivoted from in-class interaction and instruction to a robust online environment that is supporting our students academically, socially, and emotionally. My heart is full as I have watched and participated in my neighborhood’s efforts to organize ways to support the elderly folks on our block with any and all resources they may need. It is evident that God is present and his grace is lighting our path forward.
For your consideration:
- How do you define a just person? How is “wickedness” present in your current situation?
- Name three ways you can “find God in all things”
- Given your current circumstances, How might you be able to be a source of light for a troubled soul?
Jamal Adams is director of equity and inclusion and director of faculty at Loyola High School of Los Angeles. In addition to those duties he is also a teacher in the social studies department teaching economics and African American studies, as well as the head varsity basketball coach. As a graduate of Loyola High School, he matriculated to Columbia University where he was a member of the men’s basketball team, as well as earning a degree in economics. Jamal’s professional career began with an 11-year stint working in finance in both New York and Los Angeles. Upon his return to Loyola as an educator, Jamal earned his masters degree in secondary education from Loyola Marymount University, graduating with honors. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife Pam, while their daughter, Jaylen, and son, Jerod, are currently college students.