This week’s readings focus on faith, as well as our willingness and ability to trust God in times of need. In a pivotal moment, during which one hundred people are in need of food, Elisha—described as a man of God—demonstrates faith in God’s word, rather than becoming fearful like his servant. In the end, not only did the people eat, but there was food left over. This theme is repeated (almost verbatim) in the Gospel. Meanwhile, the second reading, we are urged to live in a manner that is as profound as our calling. In summary, the readings advance the messages that God will always provide, and His provision is always greater than our needs. In response, through our faith, we are to be obedient to God’s calling.
Today’s readings are extremely relevant to the current state of our nation, and the dire need for a more just and equitable society. In this current chapter of the Racial Reckoning—and as believers—we are all called and, therefore responsible, for creating and sustaining this society. Indeed, all work focused on mitigating racism and oppression, more broadly, begins within each of us. So, if each of us is all called to, “live in a manner worthy of the call you (we) have received” as the second reading advises us, why is this so difficult?
It’s relatively easy to demonstrate faith in God and trust His word in times of comfort and serenity. However, when we feel unprepared to engage in conversation, uncomfortable advocating for others, or experience pressure from authority figures or donors, we can become fearful, and neglect to answer the call—despite the many times throughout our lives that God has demonstrated His omnipotence. However, it is in those instances—when our faith is tested—that we must remember God would not call on us to do anything without, first, ensuring that we have all we need to be successful. In response, we must recognize God’s sincere desire to provide for us, so that we might grow, develop, and, ultimately, glorify Him.
Of all the barriers to creating a more just and equitable society, listening might be the greatest. So often, members of historically marginalized and oppressed communities speak openly out of their frustration and pain, yet we do not listen. Perhaps, we hear these cries for justice but, we do not know how to assist, or we simply do not want to believe that the world can be that cruel, or we are in a rush to solve the problem. In any case, we do not listen and fail to make the personal or structural changes that can, ultimately, lead to a more just society. By actively listening to those experiencing oppression and marginalization and envisioning ourselves (or our loved ones) in similar situations, we learn, develop empathy, and can become persons for and with others.
As you seek to be a more engaged advocate, consider the following questions:
- How might God be calling you to assist in creating a more just and equitable society?
- Why might you be hesitant or fearful to respond to this calling?
- To whom might you be called to listen more attentively?
- In what ways might God intend for you to grow by listening, demonstrating faith, and being obedient?
Dr. Nathan J. Sessoms is the Principal & CEO of Success Beyond Measure, Incorporated, a Diversity & Educational Equity consulting firm that provides support to community-based and non-profit organizations, for-profit entities, and academic institutions interested in combatting systemic racism and creating equitable outcomes for all.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he has conducted research on race relations at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, contributed to several National Science Foundation-funded reports, and published in several peer-reviewed journals, including Urban Geography, The Professional Geographer, and Kalfou.
Dr. Sessoms is the former director of the Office of Black Student Services at Loyola Marymount University, where he also worked closely with the University’s Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Jewish, Muslim, and LGBTQIA Communities, while assisting the campus community in navigating the realities of race and racism. He continues to serve as an adjunct professor in LMU’s Department of Sociology.