“Make justice your aim; redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.”Isaiah 1:17
Do you sit on the sidelines or are you on the field when it comes to social justice?
I will be brutally honest here. I am one who tends to sit on the sidelines. The one who feels I can’t save the world, so I offer a prayer.
I grew up in a less fortunate environment part of my life and witnessed people take advantage of the systems. I was very head-strong growing up and knew I wanted more from life and in order to achieve it I had to work hard. So, I did. A good thing, right? It was good for my lifestyle and it did play a role bearing good fruit in my life but it also established bad fruits. It created a mindset that everyone had a choice to work hard or be lazy. If they chose to work hard then they too could be delivered from the things that social indifferences say aren’t achievable for those of lower income.
What I ultimately heard was the lie the enemy was telling me through my own experiences, except his lie applied to social injustice as a whole. I couldn’t change anything because it was someone else’s choice to change and that choice wasn’t mine to make. Therefore this part of my spirituality was placed on the sidelines in the form of prayer. My biases put up a wall with a sign saying there is nothing you can do. Funny thing is with God we are His hands and feet and we are the ones He calls to carry out these changes that we may pray for.
For every lie the enemy tells us, God will somehow find away to reveal truth in us if we are listening.
Recently, I was challenged in a theological reflection on the book “The Holy Longing” that I had to write for a class I’m taking. Jokingly I wrote that reading the section on social justice was like watching paint dry. It connected the least with me in all the content in the book and all I wanted to do was push through it and do my assignment. My instructor politely commented that he would have liked to hear more about my wrestling with this part of the book because as Ronald Rolheiser wrote in the book, this part of our faith is non-negotiable.
Non-negotiable? Food for thought.
It really caused some deep searching in myself and my spirituality as a whole.
Here’s the thing, when we read the gospels, what was the single difference between Jesus and the Pharisees? The major difference was that the Pharisees put the law ahead of all things, even the social injustice of God’s people. Jesus placed it in front. He came to make right these wrongs, just as it’s stated in Isaiah 1:17, “make justice your aim; redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.” The gospel reading today from Matthew 23 provides us with a glimpse of how the Pharisees’ actions did not reflect the words they preached. Instead of helping God’s people, they placed heavy burdens on them.
Our society today is plagued with social injustice. It crosses all ages of our society, from the womb to the end of life. We don’t have to look hard to find it. Some of these groups that are victims of social injustice don’t have a voice and can’t take action.
How do we respond to such a huge endeavor?
This is an area in my spiritual journey I feel I am being convicted and need to discern where God is calling me to act.
The invitation for me this Lent is to identify the area I can aid the most in and take action and not be like the Pharisees. Perhaps, God is also inviting you to look deep within and identify wrongs you can help make right for His people. After all it’s a non-negotiable in being more like Christ.
Lord, I come to You with a humble heart to ask You to send me forth in my community using the gifts You have given me to aid in making right the wrongs in our society. Jesus taught us through his example on how to love all Your sons and daughters. Help me to also pour out this love towards others who are victims of these injustices. Amen