Our call to be light in the darkness, to be united as one, and to follow Jesus no matter the cost

January 21, 2017

By Nicole Trahan.  Excerpt from Global Sisters Report, “Dr. King’s lessons for today: standing against the status quo. 20 Jan 2017

In our community, we spend time reflecting on the readings for the upcoming Sunday. The evening of Martin Luther King Day, the readings for the following Sunday called us to recognize our call to be light in the darkness, to be united as one, and to follow Jesus no matter the cost. While our readings always have important messages for us, it seems to me that their proximity to MLK Day and the inauguration cause them to take on additional relevance in our times.

In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King wrote:

So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent — and often even vocal — sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world?

The last question in this quote from Dr. King haunts me. Are we too tied up in the status quo to take a stand? Are we too comfortable in the center of society as to step out to the margins?

The would-be followers of Jesus drop everything to follow him. They leave everything behind — their livelihoods, their comfort, their safety nets. They leave because the call and the person of Jesus compels them. Dr. King spoke courageously for justice and for peace. Risking and losing his very life because the message of Jesus and his love for humanity compelled him. What about us? Are we so compelled? If standing up for justice and for peace for all people should call us to leave behind what’s comfortable and what’s safe, will we, too, be compelled?

In this week in which we usher in a new time for our civil society, I am challenging myself to continue reflecting on the words of Dr. King and the call of these readings. I am challenging myself to become a person of love and courage. To take stands against the status quo, not counting the cost. But I can’t do this alone. Will you join me?

Nicole Trahan is a member of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate (Marianist Sisters) who teaches sophomore religion at Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School, serves as the National Director of Vocations for the Marianist Sisters, and is director of the pre-Novitiate program for her province.