“The Gospels are passion narratives with extended introductions.”
God, as we follow your Son Jesus through the Markan Gospel we see ourselves in the apostles. At first, they are confused or baffled. But this incomprehension turns to antagonism and eventually defection. Your Son Jesus works mightily through teaching, parables, miracles and example to help them. Yet we hear Jesus say in chapter 8 (halfway through the Gospel) “Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember…do you still not understand? Holy Spirit, touch my mind, my heart, my eyes and my ears this Lent.
The first Sunday of Lent we were called to “repent”. “What exactly does ‘repent’ mean? The original Greek word used here is ‘metanoeite,’ literally to ‘change your mind’; ‘noeite’ derives from the root word ‘nous,’ which means your mind, and the prefix ‘meta’ implies change or transformation. To repent implies that we confess our wrongdoing and determine to reform our ways — certainly a salutary thing to do. But to change your mind or perspective is something different. It involves seeing reality in a different way, renewing our perspective on life.” (Fr. Donald Senior in Chicago Catholic)
We need only see ourselves in the struggles of the Apostles to realize how difficult it is to see the reality of racism “in a different way”. We must first get in contact with where our hearts are hardened. To what are my eyes blind? What do my ears not hear? After Charlottesville, Austin C. McCoy wrote an article, “Let’s Call for Structural Transformation.” He got very specific. “Eradicating institutional racism — especially as it is related to a host of other legal, political and material structures, such as private property rights and policing, restrictive immigration and deportation, wage and property theft, deindustrialization and the assault on organized labor, the patriarchal assault on reproductive rights, the theft of Indigenous land, imperialist wars, and other crimes committed by capitalists and the state — offers us the best chance to eradicate the foundation of white supremacy.” He ended the article this way: “…structural transformation is difficult. Let’s not take the easy way out.”
Another author offers us this practice for Lent and beyond. “This Lent, I am praying for a moral awakening. A moral awakening is a threefold process of awakening to (1) the consequences of the injustice woven in our lives, (2) more just and sustainable alternatives, and (3) the moral-spiritual power for embracing these alternatives.” (Adapted from Cynthia Moe-Lobeda’s Resisting Structural Evil)
Questions for discussion:
1) Do I find myself taking the easy way out concerning institutional racism?
2) What form does my “Resisting Structural Evil” take?
The Call To Action Anti-Racism Team seeks to make Call To Action into an anti-racist institution and spread that effort to addressing racism in the Church and society. Please consider making a gift to support the Anti-Racism Team and CTA’s other programmatic work.
David Jackson is a member of CTA/Rio Grande Valley and leader of Valley Interfaith at St. John’s parish in San Juan, TX.