Walking Together for Racial Justice

Father Mark Odion, Regional Superior of the Missionary Society of St Paul focuses on 'Walking Together' for racial justice.

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On 5 February, the Catholic Church in England and Wales celebrates Racial Justice Sunday. It’s the day the Church focuses on the need to oppose racism and pursue racial justice with renewed vigour.

The theme for 2023 is “All are included in the mission of Christ and His Church. Let us walk together, pray together and work together”

This reflection, from Father Mark Odion, focuses on ‘Walking Together’ for racial justice.


As we mark Racial Justice Sunday, we come together to reflect on the theme “All are included in the mission of Christ and His Church: Let us walk together, pray together and work together.” Today, we focus our reflection on walking together. Let us read from the Holy Scripture, the Gospel of Luke 24: 13–15.

“That same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.”

The United Kingdom is a society that is richly blessed with multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multicultural, and multi-religious communities. It is very much imperative that all these communities come together to walk together because there is strength in togetherness. There is an African proverb that says, “if you want to walk fast, walk alone; but if you want to walk far, walk together.” In a space, like the United Kingdom, where we have diverse races, diverse cultures, and diverse religions, it pays more if every race and every ethnic group come together for the common good of the communities. It brings the collegiality of a team spirit.

When we walk together, we all feel the joy of building a peaceful community. The impact of the journey will not be felt. From our scriptural reading, the two disciples journeyed for seven miles without feeling the impact of the journey, despite their disappointment. This is because as they talk on the journey, they listened to each other. Walking together is nourished through active listening as seen in the case of the Emmaus travellers. However, active listening is one of the most difficult things to do in our contemporary society. But we cannot walk together if we are not able to listen attentively to and understand one another. As we walk together to build a just and peaceful community, let us cultivate the conscious disposition to listen actively to one another’s experiences and needs.

Different people see the world through different lenses. No one has a monopoly of knowledge, so walking together enables us to bring our gifts together to build our communities. In walking together, we learn different ways of doing the same thing or different ways of doing new things. When we walk together, we can share ideas and learn different ways of doing the same thing and different ways of doing new things. In the end, we are learning from the Hindu man or woman from India, the Luo man or woman from Kenya or Shona man or woman from Zimbabwe, the Arabs from the Middle East, the Chinese from the far East, or the Ibos from Nigeria. We are learning from each other. In walking together, we may discover that there are gifts or talents in other cultures that we may not necessarily have picked up, because of our cultural background, either because those gifts or talents do not exist in our culture in that shape or form, or it may be that they do not even exist at all in our cultures. But in walking together, we pick up those gifts or talents from other cultures. In all of this, they make us a better person. We do not lose our identity, rather they make it even stronger and better. Much more, when the community moves together everybody is a part of the community, they partake in the fraternity and benefit from the interdependence.

Another African proverb says, “it is easy to break a broomstick when removed from the bunch, but difficult to break them when together in a bunch.” When we remove one broomstick from the bunch, it loses its strength, and it breaks. But when all the broomsticks are together, they form one bunch, become firm, strengthen each other, and do not break. So it is by walking together; the community gets strengthened. It lives in harmony. It does not break.

When people own a narrative, they do more, they strive more, they tend to achieve more, they tend to progress more, and even as individuals we tend to turn out better. Not that we are not good at the stage we are, but there is something better we can learn from others when we all walk together because “togetherness is strength”. This learning helps to build a community where the individual is affirmed by others. In the process, as an individual, one discovers that there are good and beautiful things in other ethnic, racial, cultural, and religious groups or communities. In walking together, as I said earlier on, we are not losing our identity, rather, we are making it even stronger thereby confirming the African “Ubuntu” theory that says, “I am because you are, we are because I am.” Therefore, let us always walk together.