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The uphill struggle to racial justice

| Friday, September 27, 2019

On Monday night, our chapel had the honor of hosting a Mass to help kick off Race Relations Week at Notre Dame. It was a packed house, so full that I had to sit in the back row of my own chapel, which I didn’t mind at all. The mood was electric, and the students who planned it gave thoughtful reflections that helped bring the focus onto healing and justice, a pair of topics that are as desperately needed as they are elusive.

In his homily, the priest who presided highlighted the first verse of that day’s Gospel reading from Luke 8:16-18: “No one lights a lamp to cover it with a bowl or to put it under a bed. No, it is put on a lampstand so that people may see the light when they come in.” He talked about how fitting the day’s gospel was for this occasion, as the students gathered there were striving to be lights in the darkness for their communities. And he was right. It was beautiful to see.

He was also right in that the day’s Gospel was fitting, more fitting than even that inspirational thought. The last verse of the gospel is this: “Anyone who has, will be given more; anyone who has not, will be deprived even of what he thinks he has.” To Jesus’s original listeners — and even to us — the words in the Gospel are pretty cryptic. Still, the message I think Jesus is trying to get across is that we should live authentic lives, not be shady and let our light shine for all to see.

But there was a heavier message in those words that struck me, given the context of a Mass focused on race relations. I know Jesus meant his words to be an admonition to live a holy life, but in the day’s context they also came bearing a second, more menacing truth about the uphill struggle we face in striving to bring about racial justice and healing. “Anyone who has, will be given more; anyone who has not, will be deprived even of what he thinks he has.”

Jesus has just named the problem for us.

Justin McDevitt

rector, Stanford Hall

Sept. 24

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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