Arduous Movement Building

Arduous Movement Building

BY KEN HOMAN, S.J. | January 22, 2024
Sunday’s Readings

I walked through the halls of a Jesuit university, meeting with graduate workers. I asked about their work lives, how their pay affected their standard of living, and gauging their interest in forming a union. A few were uninterested, but many were willing to sign cards of support. Only a few, however, could fully participate. The university harshly cracked down on organizers.

In Sunday’s Gospel from Mark, Jesus is actively organizing in the midst of an oppressive regime. A ton is packed into the short narrative. John has been arrested. Jesus is proclaiming the Good News and calls the first apostles by name. As his ministry expands, so do the threats on his life.

Many of us have heard stories of individuals who made sudden heroic decisions to do the right thing. But behind almost each story was in fact a long, arduous build-up. Mark’s “come follow me” story can feel like the mistold stories of Rosa Parks we have all heard—an instant call and instant response.

The Gospel call to faith and justice, however, is not a frantic dash. Simon, Andrew, James, and John had likely been hearing Jesus preach for months. Christ’s words moved them from passive listeners to active participants. And we know from subsequent Gospel stories that not everyone was willing to become full or even partial participants.

In today’s Psalm, the response states, “Teach me your ways, O Lord.” The way of God is calling and drawing others into the work of a faith that does justice. We often make or hear these calls amidst trying and dangerous circumstances. Moreover, we have to make them again and again. The call of the apostles was just one of many that we see repeated and reminded throughout the Gospel. But it is together that we win hearts and minds for the Reign of God, the Kingdom of Justice.

Reflection Questions:

  • What faith and justice organizing calls have I recently heard? 
  • What calls to justice have I been hesitant or anxious about? Which have given me hope?
  • What long, slow calls have been developing in my life?
5 replies
  1. Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    What calls to justice have I been hesitant or anxious about?The calls to justice that I have been hesitant to answer are ones that seem to be centered around the organizer instead of all the people who are affected by the organizing issues. The center for ‘being all in’ has Christ as the focal point. Being at one with Him keeps us merciful, truthful and there for the good of all. Which have given me hope? The call to justice that have given me hop are ones that are deeply set in the love of Christ and want His reign on earth to assist others in their commpletion of His work on earth. It is necessary to have a sense of silence as we discern the movement forward for the good of all. We, as fragile people need to pray and act for the good of all. If we are a contemplative in action we can move forward on whatever the issue is at the time and be assured that when God is with us we can do what is best for those struggling with issues.

  2. sonja
    sonja says:

    Faith and justice calls in the country of my citizenship I answer straight away. Unfortunately, nowadays politicians to not respond to emails and ignore the petitions of those who voted them into power.
    However, now living as a migrant in a foreign country, I am more reticent to speak out against gross injustices for migrants, when it could jeopardise my own permission to stay in the country.
    The long slow call to justice is to keep on trying to get justice for victims of abuse in our own church communities.

  3. Michael Lando
    Michael Lando says:

    For a Jesuit University to crack down on union organizing is unconscionable. If the university in question is Georgetown then it is doubly so, especially given its past affiliation with slavery. I attended a Jesuit high school and saw first hand how some Jesuits were too comfortable deploying a ” don’t rock the boat ” policy. I had a chemistry instructor who came in hung over on the day after St. Patrick’s day and gave the class a study period for the two periods that were supposed to be our weekly lab time slot. He said he just wanted to sleep it off. When halfway through the period my classmates’ rowdiness woke him up and he saw some one passing a newspaper to me he demanded I give it to him. When I asked him why he lunged towards me to grab the paper and tripped and fell. He got up and told me to leave his class and not come back which is what I did, and spent the next few classes in the school library. The following week I was called to the headmaster’s office and told to apologize to the chemistry instructor. When I asked why I was told to either apologize or be expelled, less than two month’s before the end of the term. Ultimately the headmaster suggested that I phrase my apology as : ” IF I offended you I apologize.” College administrators who crack down on union organizers are no better than that headmaster. Have they never heard that: “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Obviously, neither my headmaster nor the administration at your Jesuit college are big fans of discernment. Pax vobiscum.

  4. em
    em says:

    Br. Ken Homan,
    Thank you for your message of “Arduous Movement Building.”
    You mention “faith and justice” and say it is not a frantic dash. This article of yours comes on the “Day of Prayer for Legal Protection of Unborn Children” of which there is no mention in your article of “faith and justice”. There IS a frantic dash of all sorts for those who are not able to advocate for themselves. There IS a frantic dash for the unborn who are about to be aborted, for the birth mothers tricked or not into having an abortion, for the birth fathers of the unborn who are not able to stop the abortion they do not want for their babies, for those children and adults who are being sex-trafficked to the domination and abuse of others. On this day “faith and justice” IS a frantic call for help. Where is your call for faith and justice here and now and especially on a day designated to reach the consciousness of all? One more aborted baby thrown into the plastic garbage tub whose cry is heard by those in attendance and then the sound of the “thud” made when hitting the hard concrete floor when thrown in(true story). Faith and Justice? What is this about “Arduous Movement Building” and no frantic call when desperation is heard all around? What you speak of is important and does take time but where is the sensitivity to taking the life of those who will never be able to be in Jesuit Universities doing graduate work? This day belongs to the faith and justice of the most vulnerable and then other injustices fall in line.
    Thanks for taking “my call.”


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