“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”
After reading the warning in today’s Gospel that “the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit,” it’s tempting to write a screed about how Jesus loved outsiders and we’d better be nice to them OR ELSE.
Two years ago, I spent an inspiring day interviewing students at Chicago’s Cristo Rey High School for a chapter in my book on the nation’s Jesuit high schools. Cristo Rey’s low income, mostly minority students pay much of their tuition by working one day a week at an off-campus job that they share with other students. They earn badly needed income for their education but more importantly, they connect with people who become their mentors and guides to a world far different than their neighborhoods. The results have been remarkable.
“My father tells everyone that he was a garbage picker in Mexico and now he has a daughter who is going to Georgetown,” one senior told me. I’m pretty sure Cristo Rey’s magic isn’t just introducing its students to rich and educated people so much as it is in exposing them to caring mentors, making real demands and holding them accountable. It works because the school and the mentors respect and value the students rather than pitying them.
I think Jesus wants us to open God’s Kingdom to a far broader collection of people than many of this world’s privileged people would do. We can help build the Kingdom of God here by extending ourselves in love, respect and genuine solidarity that banishes class and economic distinctions to “outsiders” as the Cristo Rey schools do.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook