In the Ignatian Prayer for Generosity, we ask the Lord to teach us how to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest. For me, these are earnest concerns because in the fight for social justice, I often doubt my ability to make change.
In yesterday’s first reading, we hear about Elijah who doubts his ability to live out the Lord’s mission to the point of praying for death. Elijah cries out, “This is enough, O Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
I have also felt inadequate in my attempt to live out God’s mission and work for social justice, and I have seen this sense of doubt plague many of my colleagues. As a member of the Urban Catholic Teacher Corps at Boston College, we take graduate school courses during the summer before working as teachers at urban Catholic schools. This program has a majority of white members who will be teaching in schools with a majority of students of color.
We have had many classroom discussions about our role in urban Catholic education as white educators and how we can best teach in service of our students’ equity. We have reflected on the lack of teachers of color in the education system and how we contribute to the striking 87% of white teachers in Catholic schools. We have questioned if teachers of color would be better fit for this job, as they can better understand the students’ lived experiences.
These are critical conversations to be had, and we must reflect on how whiteness dominates the education system. However, I have seen so many of my classmates be stopped dead in their tracks by doubt, and like Elijah, they question their ability to do the work they set out to do.
Jesus sustains us in these moments of weakness.
At one of Elijah’s weakest points, an angel came to him and said, “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” Strengthened by that food, Elijah walked 40 days and nights. In the gospel, Jesus invites us to do the same. He says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
When we feel frozen by our inadequacies, we must rely on our faith, as Jesus provides us with the sustenance to keep going. Through prayer, He helps us to renew our commitment to social justice and grants us the humility and resilience to persevere through our doubts. The journey to a just world is a long one, much too long to go without food.
Josie Schuman is a former ISN intern and graduate of John Carroll University. She is currently a member of the Urban Catholic Teacher Corp at Boston College, pursuing a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction while teaching 5th grade English. Josie is passionate about faith-based antiracist education and hopes to inspire students of color to use reading and writing as tool for social change.