Sit down. Shut up.
I’ve heard those words a lot over the years. Classmates, bosses, parents, teachers, and even fellow Jesuits have said shut up in response to my cries for change. And frankly, doing so often seemed easier.
Yet the words of invitation have been all the more powerful.
Take courage; get up. Jesus is calling you.
I first understood those words at the Ignatian Family Teach-In in 2006. As we sang, “We are one body, and we do not stand alone,” I found both the invitation and courage to say yes to God and the community. At the time, I was saying yes to working for faith that does justice. As I continued growing in that faith, it became clear that the deeper invitation was to become a Jesuit brother.
To work for justice is a universal calling from God. Through discernment, we learn how that universal call becomes concrete and particular in our own lives. Fatigue, dejection, anger, and sadness make it seem easier to sit quietly. But the restless voice of God will continue to nag us, just as Bartimaeus continued to call out.
There’s an even more subtle character in this story, however—the nameless person who spoke the words of courage to Bartimaeus. As the crowd rebuked Bartimaeus, someone shared words of hope. Our vocation never belongs to us alone. It comes from the community. The community at the Ignatian Family Teach-In in 2006 offered me that courage and call.
I’m left praying with the question: What am I doing to encourage others to be brave and say yes to their call to a faith that does justice?
Br. Ken is a Jesuit of the Midwest Province. He is a doctoral candidate in U.S. history at Georgetown University, studying the Jesuits and the labor movement.