Ash Wednesday: The Call to Radical Solidarity

February 14, 2024 | Maggie Reardon | Today’s Readings

“When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you.” (Matthew, 6:2)


If you are standing at the altar of Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, your gaze naturally falls upon the rear of the Church. What stares back at you is a large painting of Saint Oscar Romero in his final moments of life: being shot while saying Mass. 

This image, profound and raw, was one of the first pieces of art I noticed as a new parishioner over a year ago while living in Los Angeles as a Jesuit Volunteer. One day, over homemade tacos de papa and pork tamales, I asked a priest at the parish what he thought of the image which loomed in his periphery as he consecrated the Eucharist. 

He responded reverently, “it keeps you humble.”

Saint Oscar Romero may as well be the patron saint of humility. His prayer, Prophets of a Future Not Our Own, offers us this sentiment. 

“We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”

In today’s Gospel, we are not called, but compelled to embrace humility, to live as prophets of a future not our own. Christ beckons us from performative allyship to radical solidarity. To live and serve as workers and ministers. To be compelled to a love that neither knows nor needs praise because it embraces true kinship. 

If we seek to ground ourselves in the Gospel, we seek to ground ourselves in relationship. Relationship dictates that we are not doing acts of service for “those people” but we are standing in solidarity with “our people.” We do not ask for praise, but engage in acts of justice and goodness because we are united in kinship with one another: those we know, those we have yet to know, and those we will never know. 

This Lent, I pray that we, as a human family, can embrace “our people,” performing acts of service for the sake of relationship, and rooting ourselves in the humility that the Loving One compels us to.

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