In the midst of the turbulent realities of our world, how can we daily rise up to address injustice?
Throughout Lent 2017, we hear from voices from the Ignatian network engaged in work for racial equality, criminal justice, alleviation of poverty, and environmental justice.
We seek to understand one another’s stories, to individually and collectively rise up to engage in the work of building a more just and peaceful world.
RISE UP SPONSORS:
We have to make our own the “firm and persevering determination” to act on behalf of others in the interest of the common good.
No matter which of today’s Gospel readings you proclaim, a refrain echoes: the Resurrection is an encounter.
To push against fear requires that we do the work to dismantle the systems around us: the ones that require the exploitation of some in order to guarantee the security of others. It means building bridges where others are attempting to erect walls.
Jesus would not have us wallow in some bleak, brutal re-enactment of that day. For indeed, it was love that made the cross salvific…not the sheer torture of it.
Jesus’ example shows me how to love close-up, on my knees, in reverence and care of where my neighbor has been.
The church’s traditional name for today, Spy Wednesday, underscores the politics of Judas’ actions—and our own—to betray Jesus and his movement.
We are the Church and the Gospel demands that we leave the building and care for our sisters and brothers.
It is to follow our deepest intuition, as night cedes to dawn, that life reverberates beyond death, and that love endures beyond any earthly power to extinguish it.
Throughout history, multitudes of people have been abused by dominative power, whether by royalty, armies, dictators, religious practices or more recently, multi-national corporations and the effects of neo-liberal globalization.
In every age, there are those whose lives, labor, and ultimately, death, are wrested from them to serve the greed of the elite.
Every 10 days or so during the summer, my maternal grandmother took a long walk to her nearest neighbors. Leaving her stark yet beautiful North Dakota farmstead, Lottie would amble along the hills cresting the Sheyenne River valley and carefully descend the sloping gullies and cow paths to the Roberts’ farm.
While the rest of the world seems to move towards division and hierarchy, our community strives to challenge that notion through one daily act: dinner.
However, while there is a great deal of truth that students can uncover with the assistance of the university’s library, today’s Gospel reading encourages us all to seek higher truth, the truth that Jesus offers through his teachings and his life.
As a Dreamer from El Salvador and Central American migrant, I am reminded every week that our current immigration system is neither kind nor welcoming to people of color.
The readings for today are stories – one from the Old Testament and one about Jesus, who loved to teach in parables. Jesus and Daniel both stand up to the powerful and challenge injustice – here specifically against women.
In the midst of challenging realities that face immigrant and refugee communities, there are small steps that we can take as advocates, as companions — we can be givers of "life," bringers of hope.
We hear of Jesus’ crucifixion so often that we are tempted to think there was unshakable unanimity amongst the leaders of Jesus’ day that he was a threat to the power structure and must be arrested. Yet today’s readings remind us that there were dissenting voices.
At this very moment people who claim to be Christian are heaping hatred and violence upon the poor, homeless, sick, elderly, people of color, refugees, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender, and Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters. Jesus stands with them.
The complexities of today’s environmental injustices and the interconnectivity of them to all things and people, rich to poor, reveals an imperative call to action.
As an Undocumented immigrant, I have felt the loneliness, fear, and sadness that this status has placed on my person. Many of us have used this darkness as a tool for our own protection, but during these unpredictable times, we, immigrants and refugees, must act and face the light.
While our ancestors were keenly aware of their dependence on Mother Earth, in the United States today many people, sadly, have become disconnected from their water source, land, and, ultimately, a sense of place and belonging.
“Your son will live.” I hear these words with some disbelief, thinking of our Grandmother the Earth, callously and consistently condemned to death with policies and projects that prioritize profit over sustainable life.
Daily, I see the suffering of immigrant families fleeing violence and poverty. Much like the man born blind in John’s Gospel, these people were born into economic and social hardships they did not choose.
Al igual que el hombre nacido ciego en el Evangelio de Juan, estas personas nacieron en dificultades económicas y sociales que no eligieron. Al igual que el ciego, buscan una vida mejor en la que puedan alimentar a sus familias y vivir sin temor ni discriminación.
In the face of uncertainty, whether it be from unjust systems or medical ordeals, Mary is a worthy model. Even in the moments when our very being is shouting out that we must rest, hide, or quit, we are called to be like Mary….to rise up, to commit to the long work of justice and healing, even in the face of our own insecurities, fears, and fatigue.
Our neighbors are all around us – living right next door; sleeping on the streets without food and shelter; working two jobs to support family; laughing on the outside but struggling on the inside; working in the warehouse down the street; fleeing violence overseas for a safer home here.
Christ took bread and wine, fruits of the earth, in his hands and blessed them. That same encounter should move us to obedience in taking up our ecological cross in solidarity with creation, one another, and the poor.
The truth is the truth no matter who chooses to believe it or speak it; it remains the truth. Injustice must not be forgotten, we must remember that we are a broken society that needs healing, and we cannot be distracted by the fanfare or the rhetoric of those that use it to distract us from the real work at hand.
When I remember that these girls are teenagers, just as I was a couple of years ago, but teenagers whose childhoods have been vastly different than mine was, with hardships including communities troubled with gang violence, institutionalized racism, food insecurity, trafficking, and homelessness (to name a few), it makes it much easier to offer that forgiveness.
The waste of consumption overwhelmingly falls onto the poor. Trash and waste disposal preys on the poor with environmental classism. Climate change further entrenches systemic racism. My consumption creates someone else’s scarcity.
In our political discourse today, rhetoric is being used to demean and dehumanize peoples and cultures. Today’s gospel gives us renewed resolve to follow Jesus who broke through the barriers of his day to encounter, to seek out, to engage with, to welcome, and to be in solidarity with others.
The prodigal son realizes his total dependence on those whose humanity he refused to recognize. Will we be brave enough to begin to dismantle the institutionalized racism that we have built, and join the party?
Though Reuben recognizes the wrong of murder, his actions prioritize his own safety over justice—a failure to love. Comfortable justice does nothing more than perpetuate and validate injustice.
Shouldn’t everyone have a right to hope, a right to believe that God will take care of them in the places where they try to plant themselves anew?
She is not distracted by the idea of upward mobility, rather focuses on serving those most vulnerable her community. This freedom of spirit has allowed her to master the art of loving and, over the years, she has become an expert.
En el Evangelio de hoy, Jesús está tratando de hacer que los discípulos imaginen una manera diferente de ser en el mundo, una manera que priorice el amor y el servicio más que el prestigio y el poder. El difunto Dean Brackley, SJ se refirió a este cambio como la búsqueda de "movilidad descendente."
This approach of beholding, appreciating, and praising in the bleak of winter gives us strength year round to engage in the slow work of social and environmental justice, knowing deep within what we are protecting: the innate loveliness of the world.
Sin is not a private transaction: we are all part of webs of interdependence that push and pull migrants across borders or degrade the planet, leaving none of us with clean hands.
Today, let’s rise, let go of fear, and engage face-to-face with someone living on the margins—be it the woman or man experiencing homelessness, the addict who now lives in isolation, or the immigrant without papers who now lives in fear.
Among Christians committed to social justice, “love your enemies” is a popular saying, for we know it is central to the way of discipleship. But perhaps it has become a little too easy to rattle off.
Jesus illustrates that words without action are the height of hypocrisy (Mt. 5:20-6). Action is white folks living in a way that prioritizes black and brown lives over their feelings of white guilt or shame or fear.
It is our duty as Americans to form a proper Dream. Through our faith, actions, and prayer we have the ability to empower our community through the Gospel. We have the ability to show the love of God and provide for those in need.
Our society, driven by a “throwaway culture,” discards not only things but people as “leftovers,” whether it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most from climate change or indigenous peoples who have been displaced from their lands or seen their water contaminated due to an economic system that prioritizes profit over people and the common good.
Do not let us forget who we are, where we come from, and how we got here. Do not let us, Lord, forget you.
The Pope’s call to practice social and political love and today’s Gospel go to the heart and soul of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
As Adam and Eve had their eyes opened in that moment of our ancestral sin, many in our nation are being awakened by the social sins that have been committed for so long.
If we want to achieve meaningful change, we must stop hiding behind walls and start building bridges.
These challenging times require compassion, faith, and action on the part of individuals, communities, and governments around the globe.
In choosing life for my Others, am I willing to heed Jesus’ call that I may risk losing my own?
How might the choices we make at the beginning of Lent affect how we treat people who are different from ourselves?
Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ
The Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J. entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1972 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1984. He holds degrees from Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University, Weston School of Theology, and Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.
In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Fr. Boyle was involved in the launch Homeboy Bakery. In 2001, the business became an independent nonprofit organization, Homeboy Industries.
Today, Homeboy Industries employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to 15,000 men and women every year. It is the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.
Father Boyle is the author of the New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion and is the subject of Academy Award winner Freida Lee Mock’s 2012 documentary, G-Dog.
Fr. Gregory C. Chisholm, SJ
Fr. Gregory C. Chisholm, SJ, a native of New York City, is honored to have lived his life in service as Pastor to several African American and Latino communities in Harlem, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Oakland. He currently serves as pastor of the Church of St. Charles Borromeo in Harlem.
His focused interests include theologies of liberation and the history of black Catholics.
He serves on the governing boards of Cristo Rey New York High School and Xavier High School. Fr. Chisholm is a 4th degree members of the Knights of St. Peter Claver.
Fr. Chisholm presided at liturgy at the 2016 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.
Sr. Norma Pimentel
Norma Pimentel is a Sister with the Missionaries of Jesus. As Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley for over 12 years, she oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight of the different ministries & services in the areas of the Rio Grande Valley through emergency assistance, homelessness prevention, disaster relief, clinical counseling, pregnancy care, food program(s), and the Humanitarian Respite Center.
In September 2015, Pope Francis recognized Sr. Norma for her work with immigrants.. He thanked her for her humility and her efforts and encouraged her to continue.
Sr. Norma has earned degrees from Pan American University, St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and Loyola University in Chicago.
Kristen Trudo is a currently the Community Engagement Coordinator at La Salle Middle School, a public charter in St. Louis, while also employed by Rise Coffee House, a St. Louis business committed to social justice.
Trudo is an emerging leader in the Ignatian family, challenging oppressive structures in predominantly white organizations. Since graduating from Loyola Marymount University (’14) and moving to St. Louis as a Jesuit Volunteer, Kristen has been challenged to think about the ways she is privileged, and not; and inspired to write about black liberation, violence against LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals, and the complicity and responsibility of the Catholic Church in the oppression of these groups. Kristen hopes to continue writing and finding her place in the work to dismantle systemic oppression, especially as it related to the liberation of black lives.