Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)
I felt the hairs on the back of my neck begin to rise as I stiffened and began to plan my rebuttal. A Black retired educator and friend had just pointed out to me and some others attending the same meeting, that we came from “privileged” backgrounds and we needed to own that.
Luckily, I uncharacteristically kept quiet, listened and reflected on what my colleague was saying. After some further explanation on his part and discussion among those attending (all White, but him) I realized that he was right. I did come from a privileged background, and it was not one I did anything to earn. Maybe that’s what the theologians mean by grace. I further began to realize then, that privilege continues today. Some may see this privilege as merited or even more absurdly, earned, but I believe, put in its proper perspective, it is simply gift. The cross I am blessed with is the cross of ignorance that I must die on if I really want to live.
Despite a lifetime of formal and informal education, I still have much to learn. Most importantly, after the above incident as well as the intervening happenings of “Me too” “Black Lives Matter” and “LGBTQ” stories I’ve been privileged to hear, I am trying to recognize that everyone who comes into my life today, deserves those same advantages afforded me.
God, I pray for the grace to let go of my narrow views of what life is all about, and to open myself up to the wonders and beauty of your creation which every day is totally new and glorious. I desire your life.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.