Day 2: Take Up Your Cross
BY SHANNON K. EVANS | February 23, 2023
So often, those of us engaged in justice work consider ourselves the “good guys.” It’s those “other” people, we think, who are the problem: the ones who don’t acknowledge racism or climate change; the ones who want to stop immigrants from making a home here. We argue that it’s “they” who are holding back a better world. But in today’s Gospel, Jesus isn’t talking about those “other” people. He’s calling us to examine ourselves—to practice self-denial, take up our cross, and even lose our life.
This means no one is off the hook, even those working for peace and justice. For all our enlightened rhetoric, for all our earnest activism, are we willing to deny ourselves in order to bring about a more just world? Or are we only interested in the work as long as it doesn’t require too much of us or create too big an inconvenience?
To take up my cross in the work of anti-racism might mean I lose a great opportunity in favor of a person of color who should be elevated instead. To deny myself in the work of climate justice might mean doing extra dishes and laundry in place of convenient disposable materials. To voluntarily lose my life, or my rights, might mean giving hard-earned money to another because I acknowledge a preferential option for the poor.
Working for a more just world is gratifying, but Jesus reminds us that it’s also costly. And unless we are willing to put some skin in the game, we will continue to perpetuate the harmful cycles we claim to oppose. So this Lent, let’s redirect our critiques against others and look inward to examine ourselves instead. We may just find a richer spiritual life in the process.
- Is my commitment to justice personally costing me something? If not, should it be?
Shannon K. Evans is the spirituality and culture editor for the National Catholic Reporter and the author of the books Feminist Prayers for My Daughter and Rewilding Motherhood: Your Path to an Empowered Feminine Spirituality. She and her family make their home on the prairies of central Iowa, where they attempt to live out the values of action and contemplation.
I do not like to be disliked!
I often find myself regretting speaking out when the topic is controversial (and later, sometimes, receiving thanks from another who needed those words spoken.)
I hate the cost of prophecy- Lord please help me to carry my cross.
I consider myself a charitable and generous person but what this post is reminding me is that my charity doesn’t “cost me” enough. I will think about that this Lenten season and look for places I can do more.
One thing that has been on my mind is to sign up with my Parish online giving, that way if I miss a Sunday mass, they still receive my contribution. I have not done it because I have been lazy…
I will use this post to motivate me to do that today and manage the “discomfort” of figuring it out. Have a peaceful day everyone.
Or it may mean sending your kids to public schools! So many progressives send their kids to private Catholic/Christian schools, which takes away so many resources from the public schools an deprives our kids of a more diverse schooling experience. We advocate for justice, but will not put our money where our mouth is when it comes to schooling.
This is a great point! How about allowing our kids to see the diversity and disparity? Are we depriving our own kids in the name of
A few months ago the Washington Post article stated that research has found African American students attending Catholic Schools out perform African American students in public schools. Perhaps a scholarship fund enabling African American students to attend Catholic Schools would contribute to evening the tilt of the scales of justice.
I don’t know if your comment was directed to me, if so a little odd since you don’t know me. To clarify, I send my son to Catholic because I want him in a faith based educational system. We are a Hispanic family and his school is 45% non-white.
We live in a state that does not have school choice. I save the public system money by sending my son to private.
On a Lenten forum, the quick judgments here are surprising. Oh well, I am comfortable with who I am and the choices I make. Have a great day!
As a woman of mixed heritage, I’ve found myself on the receiving end of racism; from both Black & White, as well as Hispanics who don’t understand why I don’t speak Spanish. Most do not realize I’m of African American descent. That’s another story. However it has given me tremendous insight; what is believed about other races, stereotypes, & how askew & judgmental we all can be. Let’s “take up our cross,” by stepping out of our own heels, & trying on another’s shoes. They may be uncomfortable, & your steps painful, but the experience is definitely worthwhile. If you’re not careful, you may even learn something.
I believe time is the most precious gift I can give. I know, I know, we are all busy. Here is a story I’d like to share. I asked a recent refugee mother from Syria what she most missed about her homeland. She told me she misses time spent with other women, that in America everyone is “busy, busy, busy”. Think about that.
This is an issue that I’ve been dealing with for the last several years. Although I make annual donations at the end of the year, in addition to responding to unexpected disasters during the year, I am trying to determine if I am called to donate more. It is an ongoing concern for me because our retirement income exceeds our current needs. We have been contributing to the college funds of our grandchildren so that they may not need college loans, and we want to be able to leave a reasonable inheritance for our children. The question is further complicated because we also want to be able to afford any long term care that we need in the future. I’ve been praying for the Lord’s grace and guidance in finding an answer that is aligned with God’s will for me. Please pray for me.
Right now I really know how painful and costly “putting your money where your mouth is”, really is. For the past 9 months I have hosting in my house a refugee family from Nicaragua, a mother and two sons. It has been hard, expensive and many times frustrating, specially dealing with a teenager and an 11 year old. But in those 9 month I have also learned a lot! I learned to trust that God was leading the way, I learned not to judge, I learned patience, and many other virtues that I hope won’t go away after they leave. Keep them in your prayers; in 2 days they move from Florida to Indiana to start a new life there. Life in Miami was too expensive and hard for anyone, with limited income, to make a living. As much as I am eager to “have my life back”, I will miss them immensely.
Way to focus on our own “ splinter”.
This has been a struggle for me. Am I too comfortable? What do I need to do. I pray for the desire to pick up my cross and/or the cross of another in need.
Different way of putting the message across! Really made me think and look inward. Will definitely be making some changes!
Well as a gay man who came out very late in life….the Lord seems to be placing a burden on my heart to work in some way for LGBTQ youth who have been driven from their homes and faith communities. I’m not sure how to do that but trust the Lord will show me.
My Book Club, in a rural, white community just discussed “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo on racism. The members are committed to keep this discussion going with friends and family.
Following Christ is not easy, iam subject to deliver what I got, as gifts from the day I was baptized, and everyday there is that constant struggle within me, either to deny Christ or to accept Christ, and must prepare and vigilant always. I draw my strength from the sacraments and I believe it’s the work of the Holy Spirit to let me stay focus to Jesus, in the midst of all adversaries and difficulty in life.
How few of us give as much as the widow, who gave the only mite she had! We are rooted in a culture of lack, and must always keep some back to provide for tomorrow, instead of trusting completely in God to supply all we need each day. When I visit Muslim neighbours who will do without to provide a meal for their visitor, I am filled with shame. When I’m accosted in train stations for money, I judge, instead of taking the time to get to know my “neighbours”. After all I could be in their shoes one day. The future is not going to provide for senior citizens in the way our parents and grandparents were accustomed to. But maybe that’s a good thing. Living simpler lives draws us closer to God.
Working for justice round the clock can be a thankless job. Lord hear our prayers.