Those Who Lead the Many To Justice Shall Be Like Stars Forever

Week of November 15, 2015

In our First Reading today the prophet Daniel invites us to ponder our definition of justice.  As political debates heat up, as violence and drugs roam our streets and news outlets, it is easy to ask, “Where is the justice?”   How do we see it, how do we define it?   To answer that question beyond the headlines we must look at a justice that this world cannot give, yet that God can provide.  The Gospel tells us that the words of God will live forever.  So what are His words?  What can we do?  I always go back to the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus said, when I was hungry you gave me food; when I was in prison you came to visit me.  What you do to the least, you do to me.  Justice can begin when we see all others as Christ.  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said that she saw the face of Christ in everyone she met and everyone she lifted up from the streets.

Justice begins with a servant’s heart and a servant’s vision.  Too often we get caught up into thinking justice is about protecting rights.  Last Lent our Peace and Justice Committee led us in Stations that were profound.  They invited us to walk the Stations with new eyes.  I used those books when we celebrated the Stations of the Cross with all of the Religious Education students.  The Peace and Justice Committee poured out facts to invite us to an awareness of a different kind of justice.

  • “Current population estimates suggest that about 131,000 veterans, both men and women, are homeless on any given night.”
  • “The United States has the largest incarceration rate in the world.  There are approximately 4500 prisons with over 2,200,000 men and women in prisons.”
  • “1.3 billion people live on less than one dollar a day.  Half the world lives on less than two dollars a day”.

These were just some of the statistics used by peace and justice at our prayers that night.  So where is justice?  Justice begins in a heart that realizes the responsibility to the blessing received in this life and the importance of sharing what we have.  I do not have an answer to the situations of tragedy in this world.  I do not have any special program that can end teenage drinking and drug use, or gang turf wars, but I do have a faith that says we are incomplete if we do not see the dignity of God in others.  I do have a faith that says I must find the dignity of God within myself.  When I see myself as chosen and redeemed, my needs for things and popularity no longer have the power they once did.

Matthew’s Gospel to me is pivotal. We can unshackle the prisoner who lives within our family that we have given the silent treatment to.  We can visit the parent who is providing the food for the family table and cherish the meal prepared.  We can visit those saddened by the way words become weapons and hurt them.

May God lead us to justice and may it begin in our hearts.

Rev. John J. Ouper