Day 28: Stand Up for the Gospel!
BY LORI STANLEY | March 29, 2022
I couldn’t help but see the man in today’s Gospel (John 5:1-16) as one who survived by making excuses to stay comfortable. His quick response to Jesus reflected his familiarity in this practice as he explained his circumstance was due to the behavior of others. As long as the man looked outside of God to address his needs, healing seemed hard to imagine.
Similarly, I’ve found when addressing racism apart from imago Dei (the image of God) and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it too cripples our ability to look for God in all people and in all things. Just like the man laying by the pool, there are some who refrain from entering critical anti-racism conversations and lay aside their prophetic voices for fear of being mistaken, embarrassed, or harassed. As many can attest, there is often a risk in standing up for the Gospel. However, the quest to protect our feelings out of fear of making missteps can come at a price too. Stepping over Catholic social teachings and jockeying for positions of influence have pushed supporters of “right to life” and “black lives mattering” into opposing corners of the Church instead of into the arms of solidarity. We mustn’t let labels, slogans, and platforms eclipse our ability to apply the lens of imago Dei in matters concerning human dignity in and outside of the womb.
May we open our eyes to justice and incline our ears to commonalities instead of differences while conversing about racism. When we observe racial injustices (in any form), may our mouths speak up against this sin. May we make a concerted effort during Lent and beyond to be “living sacrifices” who risk standing up for the Gospel in our communities of faith and influence.
- What excuses are you holding on to that get in the way of viewing racial justice as grounded in the Gospel?
- Where are you situated on the spectrum of discomfort when conversing about racism?
- Do you feel discomfort when speaking out against racial injustices? Why or why not?
Lori Stanley is the executive director of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange, CA. She is a masters candidate studying pastoral theology with a concentration in spiritual direction at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. She has been married for 33 years and has an adult daughter.
With my family, I am very comfortable but not necessarily satisfied with the conversation and actions about racism. I feel I need my family’s support and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. My sons are very sensitive to the feelings and needs of the people they come in contact with. My youngest son, an attorney is very careful about how things are meted out in the court room. My second son is about justice in the University classroom and my eldest son is careful about the justice in regard to the services of his township. I know they are stiving to do more and I take their lead in that regard. Let us pray that all realize the importance of treating all fairly and justly as Jesus did as he roamed the earth.
I have not submitted a comment until today but I must share my father’s gift to me in a lesson learned early. I have never been uncomfortable discussing racial equality and all men being children of God. I am 82(almost). My father always felt racial equality was important. When he chipped into to bury one of his coworkers when I was 8 , it was because he and others could not let one of their own be buried in Potters Field. Vaughn was black. When I was a teen he caused the civic association in our neighborhood to split when he said they should not buy a house that was being sold because the owner said he would sell to a black family if they did not buy. My father them he would prefer that to the bigot who was selling the house. He did this all so naturally that it was an ingrained response in me also. I do not understand racism if you believe one God created us all.
I grew up with the philosophy of seeing that of God in every person. That has been the most positive witness of following Jesus. It has made me stand out from the crowd and the young ask, why I do it. Then I share my faith with them.
It was an eye opener for me standing outside an abortion clinic. The poor of other nationalities were easily convinced. The ones who ignored us were the Catholic mothers, mothers in law to be and grandmothers. It shocked me that these Catholic women would drag their teen age daughters, granddaughters and possible future daughters in law to have their innocent babies aborted. No wonder there is so much violence in the world today. Women’s wombs are no longer a place of peace and safety.
Thank you for this wonderful reflection, Lori! Powerful and prophetic words that call us to see how posturing for positions can end up dividing rather than unifying us as Catholics that result in losing sight of Jesus’ message to bring comfort and justice to our wounded world. Grateful for your voice which calls us to continue the journey- no matter the cost!
It’s an act in world-rebuilding. Observing injustices of all sorts and speaking out against such practices and inclinations add life to one’s life span.