We asked members of our staff to share what moves them to do justice work. This month Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries, reflects on our call to be disciples - not alone - but in partnership.
Called to Discipleship
Every now and then I get stuck in disappointment, despair, and disgust. When I see the magnitude of the injustice happening all around us, I wonder how in the world we’re going to “fix it.” It is often easier to just ignore what’s going on and slump into denial; a belief that what is happening is not my fault or that there’s nothing I can do about it. Then I’m shaken out of my complacency by God who seems to literally interrupt my thoughts and gets into my head or heart. God’s regular interruptions remind me that I must be a part of influencing change because every living thing is connected and that each one of us is responsible for the common good. It is a clear reminder that if we talk too much or listen too little, we may miss the chance to be shaken.
While I rely on many scriptural passages, I am primarily drawn to the Gospel teachings. The Gospels are full Jesus’ teachings that require that we not turn our backs on the injustice that is occurring throughout the world. They are the reminders that compel us not to isolate ourselves in our churches with an attitude of self-preservation and self-righteousness while the world is painfully crumbling around us. The institutional church must shift from only responding to opinions and needs pressed by the most vocal within the congregational community to seeking a deeper understanding of what it means to be a model of love and justice as specified in the Gospels. As Jesus’ followers, we Christians must raise our voice in the public square especially in our social systems that favor the rich, the powerful and the dominant. Rather than asking the question, “what would Jesus do” perhaps we should remember what Jesus DID do.
One particular passage in the Gospel of Luke speaks to me every day, because I am a firm believer in collegial ministry and inter-dependent relationships. If we work together, we are strengthened in our effort to live out our commitment to serve God through Jesus in a world that requires human interaction. We need not go out alone, nor assume that anything can be achieved through any one voice alone.
Jesus appointed the seventy others and sent
Ahead of him in pairs to every town and places where
He himself intended to go. (Luke 10:1-3)
Jesus said to share the good news of joy, hope and reconciliation. Diverse communities and people of faith must work together, not alone, but in pairs to create an environment where peace is possible and where relationships can endure with respect and dignity. However, I do sometimes wonder if this passage is about more than “not going out alone.” When religious leaders get caught up in their own greatness, listening to their own voice, I wonder if this passage that calls us to go out in pairs is also meant to keep our personal ego in check. To remind us that we are instruments of God’s righteousness, not our own.
He sent them ahead of him in pairs to prepare the way. Disciples sent with a task. Discipleship – the main job – not the second job, not a moonlighting task, not an ice-cream social, and not a hobby for after hours. Discipleship – not a choice but a call. Discipleship – a summons to serve. Disciples sent together. When I get discouraged, I just remember Jesus and what He said and did. Inspired by His words and deeds, surely I can do my part.