“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
As Americans reckon once again with the crushing sin of racism, both systemic and individual, Jesus’ command at the end of today’s Gospel challenges us.
If you’re like me, then our beloved Jesuit lexicon can feel like a blessing and a curse at times. While at their best, our various mottos and catchphrases beautifully capture our vision and promote true community, at their worst, they can become vague buzzwords that help us avoid the uncomfortable and complex.
Jesus calls us to clarity, integrity, and action. If “yes” means “yes” and “no” means “no”, there is no “maybe,” no “neutral,” in the face of injustice. Author and historian Ibram X. Kendi explains, “There’s no in between racial hierarchy or racial equality…injustice or justice…racist or anti-racist. There’s no ‘not racist’ sort of category.”
How can I say “no” to racism and “yes” to anti-racism today?
Gracious God, imbue us with the grace and perseverance that you gave your servant, Sister Thea Bowman.
For in turbulent times of racial injustice, she sought equity, peace, and reconciliation.
In times of intolerance and ignorance, she brought wisdom, awareness, unity, and charity.
In times of pain, sickness, and suffering, she taught us how to live fully until called home to the land of promise.
Inspire us with her powerful witness, that we might be moved to action.
—Adapted from a prayer copyrighted in 2018 by the Catholic Diocese of JacksonPlease share the Good Word with your friends!