The Jesuit Antiracism Sodality East
“Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” – John 4:21
I am speaking with a Latinx student that I know at Arrupe College. I am asking them about their experiences and their hopes for the future. “Would you like to continue on at Loyola Chicago?” I ask. Their eyes go down; they chuckle uncomfortably. “I’m looking at other schools,” they say. “It’s not that Loyola’s bad, but I just don’t feel comfortable there. I want to go somewhere with people who look like me.” I am taken aback to think that our university, which in some sense seems so diverse and welcoming, is still perceived as a white space, a place in which students of color feel unsafe. I remember the woman at the well. How surprising for her that Jesus would be asking her for a drink. There is so much history between the Israelites and the Samaritans! What you’re asking me to do is too much! Yet Jesus says that there is a time coming and already here when our faith life will not be limited by locations. Can we dare to ask what that means for us and our white spaces? On this day I am not able to go further. I don’t care about “our spaces.” I stay with the student.
I am riding down the road with three students towards a restaurant owned by a Muslim family. The families of these students have come from different countries, but they are American. One friend speaks with a southern drawl, waxing eloquently about soul food from Atlanta. Another scoffs when I mention the particular dish I like. These students are American, and they are also brown and Muslim. They are what a lot of white Americans have come to fear in the last twenty years. Yet, I am moved by their generosity. They have welcomed me on this Sunday expedition to the holy land of halal food. Jesus says, “My bread is to do the will of the father.” In my quest of living out the gospel, I too am being fed, in this case very literally. How do I break down these walls of division? I have to show up. If I want a better relationship, I have to actually know the people. I have to eat the same kind of food that they do. I have to drink the same water, like Jesus does. I am very grateful that these students have been so generous to me. Welcoming me into the spaces where they feel comfortable. In the end, my prayer convinces me that Jesus wants me to enter into these spaces. In the great commission, Jesus says to go out. He doesn’t tell the disciples to bring people back to their homes. On that day with these three students, I was reminded that Jesus walked.
This month’s reflection was provided by Andrew Milewski, SJ, of Loyola University Chicago. If you would like to volunteer to provide next month’s reflection, please contact Sean: email@example.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this reflection do not necessarily reflect those of Jesuits USA East.