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Pre-Read: John 6: 48-67

The Good Samaritan Among Us Today.

In the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, we see a collection of people following Jesus after he has multiplied loaves of bread and fish so they all had enough to eat. Jesus teaches them the truth about himself – that he is the bread of life. He instructs them to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Many of the people are horrified; the vast majority think it is too hard and they walk away. Only a few remain, believing in the words of Jesus. 

On Monday, we reflected on the fact that some of us are privileged based on the identities we hold, whether because of gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, and more. Grappling with privilege and marginalization, especially for those who are privileged, can be feel similar to the crowd’s response – a diversity of feelings may arise in us. These range from denial to anger to guilt to rage to shame and more. We may discount that we have privilege and instead blame the marginalized person, people or society at large. We may feel ashamed, guilty, or paralyzed, uncertain about what comes next. 

If we are a person of color, woman, LGBTQ person, or Muslim, we may feel exhausted in managing the feelings of the person who is privileged. We may even feel discounted if the dominant person denies that our experience is valid. 

Our Gospel invites us to consider the reactions of the people who heard Jesus proclaim that he is the bread of life. We are invited to connect that story to the experience of learning about privilege. In both accounts, what is spoken is a difficult truth that can be hard to believe, and is therefore prone to strong reactions. As you pray with today’s Gospel, imagine how Jesus may be inviting you to hear the truth of privilege, especially White privilege. Pay attention to your feelings and what Jesus might be inviting you to next. 

Meditation: 20-30 Minutes

I begin by asking for the grace to understand what it means to hear the truth about racism and White privilege through the lens of Jesus more deeply.
 
I imagine the passage through the town of Capernaum. I recall the scene. What does the town look like? How many people are there in this crowd with Jesus? Are they listening attentively or are they distracted? What are their facial expressions?
 
I turn to the person of Jesus who is telling the crowd about himself. I hear him say, “I am the living bread come down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.” What do I think Jesus means by this? I look around. How many people look to nod as they are understanding? What do they say about Jesus?
 
How many people are quarreling among themselves? What do they say? Are they upset? Confused? Horrified? Angry?
 
Where do I fall? What do I feel? Where do emotions arise in me?
 
I imagine again that Jesus begins to speak the truth, this time about what he has learned about cultural differences. He speaks the truth that some people experience benefits in life just based on the identities they hold. Others he names are marginalized. Women, he names as marginalized people, and he tells the group about his encounter with the Samaritan Woman at the Well.
 
When he says the Samaritans are marginalized people by ethnicity, some people begin to scoff. What are they upset with? What do they grumble about? How strong are their reactions to Jesus’ comments about privilege?
 
Are there some who are on board with what Jesus is saying? How are they expressing that they agree?
 
Where do I fall among these people? What do I feel? Where do emotions arise in me? Are they strong or weak emotions?
 
I watch as, one by one, the crowd walks away angry with Jesus. How many people are left? Do I stay or leave? For what reason? Do I have any trepidation?
 
I bring my feelings to Jesus. What does he say as I express them?

 


Resource: To fight racism, Catholics must hunger for justice like we do for the Eucharist

Read this editorial from America magazine about the need for Catholics, especially White Catholics, to lead a national outcry against racism as we seek repentance and reconciliation. 
Read the Article


Post-Reflection Questions:

What was my experience of this reflection? How did I feel? What is my residual feeling? 

What stays with me as I reflect on privilege? Is this new material for me? Does it leave me feeling paralyzed, guilty, confused, curious? Where might I feel inspired to learn more? 

As we think about the effects of privilege and marginalization, how does this impact people’s life chances? How might they become part of our cultural assumptions? 

The editors of America Media suggest that we ought to hunger for racial justice like we hunger for the Eucharist. Many in today’s Gospel did not hunger for the Eucharist that is Jesus. Where might we be called for racial justice? 

 




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