In these days of staying indoors, I have been indulging in a bit of nostalgia lately: returning to fantasies of simpler times in the face of things that seem out of my control. A lot of the world seems to be doing that too. TV networks are catching on.
I recently caught an episode of NBC’s Saved by the Bell reboot, which is based on the early 90s sitcom that follows the adventures of Zack Morris and his friends at California’s Bayside High. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Zack is a bit of a troublemaker. He has little regard for the consequences of his actions, which is entertaining in the wealthy, make-believe world of Bayside High—though not nearly as much if you consider their implications in the real world.
The reboot, however, is aware of this dynamic. Instead of resorting to bland nostalgia, the new season follows the adventures of Daisy Jiménez: a transfer student at Bayside, who does not come from the wealth and privilege of the show’s former protagonist.
Amidst the bright pastels and endless callbacks, there is a poignant moment at the heart of the first episode. Throughout her first week at Bayside, Daisy finds herself constantly at odds with the ease with which her classmates navigate the world—a world that has never been as forgiving or kind to her and her friends. In response to her righteous indignation, Principal Toddman offers her a word of advice:
“Daisy, these kids, they can be sheltered and clueless, but they get one thing right: they never feel guilty about taking their seat at the table. And I know you deserve a seat there too. And if you don’t take it, how else are we going to make this place more fair?”
Today, February 2nd, is the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. And as I consider what it means to take one’s seat at the table, I am reminded of Mary’s words in the Magnificat—that song which Mary sang so well, as she considered the presence of the Christ-child within her: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:46-55).
What does it mean to believe these words—to take Mary at face value, so to speak—when we look around at a world that is anything but fair?
It may mean that we take a step back, sometimes, and let others have their say. It may mean making sure that others share the very privileges we rightfully enjoy.
It may also mean, sometimes, that you lay claim to what is rightfully yours: a seat of your own at God’s Table. A place for you to live, breathe, and belong—the only proper place for a beloved child of God.
—Fr. JavierTags: From the Clergy, Hope for the Journey