Figuring out how to work for justice can be a challenge. It’s easy when there are large frameworks and organizations already working on an issue I’m passionate about. I can plug in without exerting myself.
But what happens when those organizations aren’t already established? Or they’re not in your geographic area? Or were once strong but have started fading?
The disciples in the Acts of the Apostles juxtapose those in John’s Gospel. In the Gospel, Thomas is befuddled. He’s used to looking at someone in charge and asking, “So what next?” Except he’s about to be left in charge! Thomas and Philip have received tremendous gifts, but they’re afraid to use them. They instead want somebody else to show the way.In Acts, on the other hand, the disciples followed a great community organizing model. They identified a need in the community. They gathered to collaborate and establish a plan. They ensured the community was on board. They trained leaders and got to work in the community. Others began joining because the disciples’ work witnessed their faith.
When I was in college, I immediately jumped in and took over the sputtering human rights student group. But I didn’t do it well like those in Acts of the Apostles. I was active and passionate. But I failed to get consensus, train other leaders, or really even establish a plan. Moreover, I put myself in charge and didn’t collaborate with others. I would have done well to instead use the model in Acts.
While we often look to Scripture for spiritual insights, today’s reading from Acts gives incredible practical advice: have faith in God, have faith in each other, and organize your community.
- What leadership gifts have I been given? How should I nurture and develop them?
- What community is asking me to become a faith leader? How am I being called to listen to their needs?
Bro.Ken Homan, S.J., is a Jesuit brother currently studying and writing at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. In addition to his work as a student, Bro.Ken works in union organizing and environmental justice. In his spare time, he is a woodworker and master of puns.