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Gospel Reflection for October 20, 2019, 29th Sunday Ordinary Time

17 Oct

Scripture Readings: Exodus 17.8-13; 2 Timothy 3.14-4.2; Luke 18.1-8

“There was a judge in a certain city who neither feared God nor respected human beings.  A widow in that city kept coming to him and saying: ‘Take up my case.  Give me my just rights against my opponent.’ For a while the judge refused but finally he said to himself, ‘I neither fear God nor respect people, but this widow—she is wearing me out.  I will settle her case justly lest in the end she disgrace me.’” – Luke 18.3-5

When Luke writes the third gospel about A.D. 85, many Christians are wondering when and if Jesus will come again in glory. The parable of the persistent widow offers a model for these believers. She persists in seeking justice in the face of a callous judge. She’s not the nagging widow we once labeled her but a model of keeping on keeping on, a relentless activist. Justice is her purpose.

In the gospel Jesus also holds up the woman as an example of praying always and not losing heart. What justice does our nation and world most need? For example, our times call us to persist in ending the mass incarceration of black men who as felons after prison can’t ever vote or get jobs with any ease. Read Michelle Alexander’s 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

What justice do you seek? What evils does the judge represent that Christians must resist? Whose persistence do you admire?


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Gospel Reflection for September 22, 2019, 25th Sunday Ordinary Time

20 Sep

Sunday Readings: Amos 8.4-7; 1 Timothy 2.1-8; Luke 16.1-13

A rich man summoned his manager and said, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager anymore.” Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what I will do so that when I am dismissed as manager, people will take me into their homes.” – Luke 16.2-4

The dishonest manage forgives his boss’s debtors–50 of the 100 gallons of oil for one debtor and for another 20 of the 100 bushels of wheat owed. When the rich boss praises the dishonest manager, Jesus’ parable upends our usual way of looking at things. The self-serving manager does reduce the debts of the poor, carrying out what Catholic social teaching calls a preferential option for the poor.

The owner makes little of having his profits plundered for the sake of the powerless but instead admires the manager’s skillful exploitation of his accounts to create a future for himself. Luke’s gospel does not let the self-serving manager go without criticizing. Luke attaches a series of Jesus’ sayings to the parable, which pass judgment on dishonest people. The sayings insist that whoever is dishonest with a little cannot be trusted with a lot. No one can trust a cheater. No one can serve two masters.

The safest investment, according to the parable, is to throw in our lot with the poor–to serve God rather than pursue wealth. Jesus’ parables calls us to apply as much ingenuity for the sake of the poor as we do to exploit the poor for the sake of the economy.

How do you benefit from the labor of the poor? How do you invest in people in need?


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Celebrate Earth!

30 May

International Women’s Day

8 Mar

It’s International Women’s Day! Check out www.internationalwomensday.com to find ways that you can take part in to create a more equal world and to celebrate the progress and achievements that women continue to make every day. #internationalwomensday #balanceforbetter

 

Only Light Can Put Out Darkness

4 Apr

A year before he was assassinated, fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke these words for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. 
May they bless your day.

I’m concerned about a better world.

I’m concerned about justice.

I’m concerned about brotherhood.

I’m concerned about truth.

When you are concerned about these things, 

you can never advocate violence.

Through violence you may murder a hater,

but you can’t murder hate through violence.

Darkness cannot put out darkness;
only light can do that.


And so, I have decided to stick with love.

I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go.

I have decided to love.
 

What have you decided to stick with?

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Social Action Has Two Feet

3 May

Mother, Now Saint

9 Sep
Photo via Flickr user Mammovies

Photo via Flickr user Mammovies

A mere 19 years after her death, Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint last week. In his homily during the ceremony at the Vatican, Pope Francis commended Mother Teresa for her generosity of mercy and for defending the discarded of society.

Indeed, in her tireless work, Mother Teresa gave people dignity by seeing their full humanity. She called urgent attention to the hideous and unnecessary poverty plaguing our globe. Taking Jesus’ gospel call to advocate for the poor quite literally, she devoted her life to the daily work. Rightly, Pope Francis lifted up Mother Teresa as a model of holiness.

And then, also rightly and with so much style we have come to expect of him, Pope Francis served pizza to 1,500 homeless Italians who were bused in for the event.

The declaration of Mother Teresa’s sainthood is exciting. In elevating our heroes, it is also important to remember their humanity as well. I can distance myself from them, venerating their holiness, while excusing myself from the call. We are all capable of making a life-long commitment to advocate for the vulnerable members of our society. I read the same Gospel that she did, one where Jesus models mercy, compassion and ministry to us. She was a mere mortal who had the same choice I do as to how to live out our daily lives.

I remember as a young child, being taught by nuns, I was curious about the monastic lifestyle. I wondered, “What would I do with my time if I committed to a simple, celibate life? What life would I build? Who would I love?” Now, with a spouse, children and a job, I must ask other questions. Mother Teresa’s sainthood throws back into relief for me the importance of doing Gospel work in my daily life, here and now, in any way I can. Instead of allowing her holiness to distance herself, I can pray for her holiness to call me to a life of mercy and compassion, too.

God With Us on the Move

2 Sep
Photo via MN Historical Society

Photo via MN Historical Society

A friend of mine spent ten weeks working at a migrant center in Tijuana this summer. Tijuana is a city generally seen as the last stop for migrants from Central America trying to cross into San Diego. Lately, the center is also housing large numbers of people from all over the world seeking asylum and refugee status in the United States. The arrival of refugees from places like Haiti and even as far as Syria is fairly new for the city.

The journeys of the migrants and the refugees weigh heavy on my heart. There are oh so many people on the move, looking for a place to rest, willing to travel across to world to find a country who will welcome them. The courage it takes to set out, the energy it takes to travel, the resilience it takes to continue on shows the remarkable strength of the human spirit. They are looking for a fresh start, a safe place to build a future. Only then can they properly grieve their past.

Abraham had been promised land as far reaching as the eye could image and descendants that numbered the stars. Yet as an old man, when his beloved wife died, he had no land, and Isaac, his only son, had no wife. Abraham could have given up. He could have sat down, pouted, and waited for God to follow through on God’s promises. Yet the story simply tells us that Abraham mourned for his wife and then rose from his grief. He got busy, buying land to bury Sarah and went looking for a wife for Isaac. Both of these acts furthered God’s plan for him. The promises came true. Abraham shows the same courage, energy and resilience as the world’s migrants and refugees. Part of grieving his past required him to continue building his future.

People who have been through great trauma benefit from having opportunities to rebuild families and careers. Good work is good for the soul. Building a future creates space to heal from the past. When the worst happens, we can become angry with God and give up, or we can hear God whispering to us to move. Then God can fill the space we create.

Is it possible that God is waiting for us to act? Perhaps God is calling to us from the future, beckoning us to create space for God’s will on earth. The migrants and refugees arriving at Tijuana have heard the call. They seek room to build a future full of good work and flourishing families. Healing from their past depends on it.

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