A Spirit of Justice

Holy Trinity Sunday reminds us that God is a God of relationship. God is not a static impersonal force, but already in God’s own nature, an activity of Love. The Creator, Son, and Spirit each love one another, and so God is not just a person but three persons whose very nature is Love.

As Christians, we also believe that we are given the Spirit, a Spirit that resides in each one of us. For years now, the Trinity has been important to me because there is a kind of reduplication of the Trinity in all our interactions with other people. When I converse with, meet, or love another person, not only am I present and is she or he present in that meeting. So, too, is the Spirit, who is there to guide and to animate both of us, if we allow the Spirit to guide us. There is another Trinity of sorts, a kind of image of the divine trinity: you, me, and the Spirit present to both of us.

Imagine what it would look like in this world if we recognized that the Spirit, that God’s very self, is there in the other person whom we meet, in myself, and in our meeting. What would look different in the world if we acknowledged the presence of God in all of our relationships: the easy and the taken for granted, and those relationships that challenge us and help us to grow?

Right now, the US is in the midst of what I believe is a moment for transformation and change for not only individuals but for our whole culture. The Spirit is moving us to recognize our responsibility for the sin of systematic racism and the need to transform ourselves both internally and through growth in our relationships with others. We need especially to listen to people of color about their experiences and not minimize them. We need to let people of color lead and as allies, not try to dominate their voices, but rather be in the position of responding and supporting black leadership. We need to have respect for the presence of the Spirit in this movement, and be guided by Love.

One project that I have set for myself over the summer is to read books to further educate myself, in order prepare for how I want to introduce these issues into my fall classes as an educator. Right now, I am reading Charles Mills’ The Racial Contract. Other books I plan to read will come from a list that the BC STM Library has developed specifically on theology and racism: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p2cEpuYPoLOOwMasAT0WlRn_9clNFFMuiKQcGFH_lzA/mobilebasic

There is also a good set of resources here for us all to learn from in the document Anti Racism Resources for White People: https://docs.google.com/document/u/1/d/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO-QgirITwCTugSfKie5Fs/mobilebasic

Or see other resources at the Boston College Libraries link: https://library.bc.edu/news/2020/06/statement-on-racism/

Harvard has a great implicit racial bias test that helps us to understand our own blind spots and unconscious racism: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/user/agg/blindspot/indexrk.htm

Ignatius of Loyola says, though, that talking and listening, reading and learning, are not enough. “Love is shown more in deeds than in words.” If we want to make the world more just, we have to be informed listeners and put that into action. Prayer and action are two powerful elements of our fight against this sin of racism, for each informs the other.

Each one of us is situated somewhere slightly differently in the community and so situated to act in ways that use our own gifts and talents. Maybe your gift is peaceful protest, or maybe it is being a good listener and supporter to others who feel stress and even trauma at this time. Maybe you are situated to educate, or to hire a more diverse board of directors or employees at the company at which you work. Maybe at work you can ask your colleagues who are people of color, how are you doing and how can I support you, and then do that. If I am choosing a school for my child, I can ask the school administration about racial and class diversity to show that I care not only about my own child’s success, but also about the well being of the wider community. We can make choices about where we live, how we work, how we vote, where we spend our time and money that support our values. We also need to make a strong commitment to nonviolent choices as we also recognize that silence or willful ignorance of racism around us can also be a kind of complicity with violence. These choices, I believe, are better informed when we take the time to pray and to discern, as well as to listen and to learn from others.