Tag Archives: social justice

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

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?

Gospel Reflection for February 11, 2018, 6th Sunday Ordinary Time

5 Feb

Scripture Readings: Leviticus 13.1-2, 44-46; 1 Corinthians 10.31-11.1; Mark 1.40-45

“A leper came to Jesus, imploring him urgently and kneeling as he spoke, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘I do choose. Be made clean.'”  – Mark 1.40-41
 
In Jesus’ time leprosy made its sufferers outsiders, obligated to stay away from others. Leprosy lumped together various skin conditions that like race, gender, age, and other realities show visibly on the body. Poverty can show in missing teeth and listless faces.

On the basis of appearance, we human beings start setting up boundaries between people like us and people like them, insiders and outsiders. We tend to stereotype and even demonize groups we don’t know. The voices of outsiders call for belonging among us, for equality and inclusion. The voices of those left out call us to widen our tents and lengthen our tables. In claiming justice and equality, people express their dignity as human begins made in God’s image and likeness. In healing the leper, Jesus gives voice to God’s intent for us all–wholeness and the communities love forms.

With who might you build a bridge from isolation to participation in economic life, parish life, neighborhood life, or family life?


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Gospel Reflection for October 29, 2017, 30th Sunday Ordinary time

25 Oct

Scripture Readings: Exodus 22.20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1.5-10; Matthew 22.34-40

“Teacher, which commandment of the law is greatest?”  – Matthew 22.36

Love God and neighbor without distinction. This is the distilled version of the mission of the  Sisters of St. Joseph, the religious community to which I belong. The mission calls us to act—to love and form relationships. It makes love of God inseparable from loving people in our lives—indistinguishable. The words “without distinction” also call us to reach out to people without sorting who we like best or who is worthy but with openness. All are welcome: immigrants, GBLTQ, people in poverty and in wealth, in sickness and in vigor.

Our mission originated in 17th-century France, where 90% of the people lived in poverty and famine and plague devastated the country. A Jesuit priest, Jean Pierre Medaille, worked with a small group of women who experienced God “seizing” them to respond to their neighbors’ needs. They divided the city and began doing all of which they were capable for and with their neighbors.

Actually our mission originates far earlier.  It is Jesus’ answer to the lawyer’s question in Sunday’s gospel, “What is the greatest commandment?” What is basic is the verb love, a call into relationships and community. In answer, Jesus quotes two commandments long on Israel’s books: Deuteronomy 6.5 and Leviticus 19.18. Seldom have people in our country and our world needed to live these commandments more than now, to make love of neighbor our firm foundation across all that divides us.

Who have you seen exploited? For whom are you feeling compassion? To what work of justice do these experiences call you?


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