Social Justice Corner for Easter Sunday

(I am writing a monthly column for my parish bulletin’s Social Justice Ministry, reflecting on the Sunday Readings)

Living the Resurrection (Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20:1-9)

Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. Alleluia!

When God became incarnate as man, he chose to live as an ethnic Jew in a region under Roman occupation. Consensus of opinions estimate that Jewish people made up seven to ten percent of the Roman Empire at that time. So, Jesus was a minority who in his ministry subverted the status quo and ministered to the marginalized, unclean, outcasts, and sinners. Because Jesus challenged the religious leaders and his popularity threatened the Roman government, he was crucified, which was a brutal form of the death penalty reserved for slaves, insurrectionists, and rebels.

However, when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, the power of sin and death was broken. The ruling political and religious elites did not have the final say. Instead, Jesus Christ reigns triumphant, and he commissions his followers to go to every corner of the world spreading the gospel message. When we abide by Catholic teachings and live a life rooted in faith, charity, and justice, we are building God’s kingdom here on earth.

As we follow in Jesus’ footsteps, we know that advocating for social and racial justice, assisting the poor and unhoused, and aiding the incarcerated, immigrants, and outcasts in society will, at times, be met with opposition and scorn, even from people within our own Church. Yet, Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope and courage that with the power of the Holy Spirit, no injustice is too large to overcome, and we too will succeed in bringing new life to those suffering on the margins. Like Pope John Paul II said, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

Social Justice Corner for 3/20/2022

(I am writing a monthly column for my parish bulletin’s Social Justice Ministry, reflecting on the Sunday Readings)

Hearing God’s Voice (Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15; 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12; Lk 13:1-9)

In the first reading from Exodus 3 today, Moses is surprised to hear the voice of God speak to him from a burning bush. God tells Moses that he has witnessed the affliction of His people enslaved in Egypt, heard their cries, and He plans to rescue them from oppression. Moses listened to God’s voice and heeded the call to lead God’s people out of slavery.

While today we most likely will not hear God’s voice come from a burning bush, He often still speaks to us in a hidden way and asks us to help those who are oppressed and suffering. How so, you may ask. God can speak to us through the homeless person asking for donations on the street, the sick person with no one to visit them, the refugee with no change of clothes, or the person suffering in our local jails.

In Matthew 25:44, the people answer Jesus, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you? Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”

In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells the story of the landowner who searches for fruit from the fig tree in his garden. Likewise, God looks to each of us to see how we are bearing fruit for the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus did not say our lives will be measured by how educated we are, how much money we make in our careers, or how many possessions we accumulate. No, the fruit God wants us to bear is measured by how we treat those in our midst who are suffering and the ways we show our love for God and our neighbor. To listen to God’s voice and be a tree that produces much fruit, we must not look the other way when people are in need. Instead, we must hear God’s voice speaking through them and see Jesus in each and every person who is in need.