Stayed on Jesus

BY ELISE GOWER | August 15, 2022
Sunday’s Readings

Editor’s Note: Elise prepared this reflection in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, while participating in The God of Us All: Praying with Black Spirituality JARS (Jesuit Anti-Racism Sodality) retreat. The lyrics from the African American Spiritual, “Woke Up this Morning,” frame her sharing.

“Woke up this mornin’ with my mind, stayed on Jesus.
Woke up this mornin’ with my mind, stayed on Jesus.
Woke up this mornin’ with my mind, stayed on Jesus.
Hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah.”

Upon first glance at this Sunday’s readings, I was less than enthused. Let’s be real; I contemplated asking ISN to assign me a different week. I took this to prayer and experienced God’s call in this spiritual. Stay on Jesus. As I re-read the scripture, I started to notice what Sister Thea Bowman would call, “the true truth.”

Stayed on Jesus
Jesus is not prophesying a mission of division. He’s revealing the truth of our human response. He foretells the rejection of the Good News. He predicts division among people; even family. I think this is where God’s invitation lies; to see the fullness of divinity in one another. Where does the Good News intersect with the truth of my neighbor’s suffering? God invites us, through imagination, to place ourselves in the sacred scene of another’s story; our collective story. 

The scene of our nation. 

The scene of God’s intentional and diverse creation.

The scene of our history.

Like my initial inability to recognize Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel, our human resistance deepens division. Fear over love. Persecution over intimacy. We insist on only one side of the aisle. We are certain, rather than curious, in complicated interactions. James Baldwin once commented,“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” Be fixed on Jesus.

As Jesus is nearing crucifixion, in the fullness of his humanity, he proclaims, “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” I imagine Christ’s anguish (and my own) in the scene of today: 

We are fixed on… 

Being right;
My rights;
Left vs. Right. 

We have managed to corrupt, entangle and dismember God’s Truth. Stay on Jesus.

Jesus tells the unfolding story of the resurrection. Baldwin’s words remind us of our call to active participation in Christ’s rising. 

In 1961, Rev. Robert Wesby drew on the wisdom of his ancestors, changing the word Jesus to freedom. The song, “Woke Up this Mornin’ with My Mind Stayed on Freedom,” voiced the story of the resurrection during the civil rights movement. 

Jesus is…


For Reflection:

  • Where do you encounter division in revealing the truth of the Gospel?
  • How does the resurrection story help you stay on Jesus?
1 reply
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Thus wrote Mahatma Gandhi: “My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realizing my God.


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