I’ve always found John 4:4 to be a strangely intriguing passage. The passage tells us that Jesus left Judea and returned to Galilee and that, to do so, “he had to go through Samaria.” The reason it is intriguing is because he did not have to go through Samaria. There were, in fact, other ways to get from Judea to Galilee. While passing through Samaria was the shortest route, it was a route that many Jews avoided, because they wanted to avoid contact with Samaritans. However, Jesus had to go through Samaria in order to make a point: everyone belongs.
This passage reminds us that racism is an evil that has long plagued humanity, and we continue to suffer from this plague today. As catechists, we too often lack good resources for addressing the sin of racism. Thankfully, there is a new resource available which is inspired by the USCCB’s recent Pastoral Letter Against Racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.” This new resource is Everyone Belongs, a fully illustrated book for children, which empowers them to reflect on the reality of racism in our society, see it through the lens of history and faith, and act towards respect, understanding, and friendship.
And particularly appropriate for those doing at-home faith formation now, the book also has downloadable printable activity sheets for children in Kindergarten through grade 5.
Like the Pharisees who avoided walking through Samaria, we too can avoid and ignore the issue of racial prejudice. As catechists, however, we model ourselves after Jesus, who had to go through Samaria. We have to address this issue; there’s no getting around it!
P.S. For more resources on combatting racism, check out these educational resources from the USCCB.