Our response to injustice calls us to personal and social transformation

We see spirituality and justice as one and commit ourselves to live this out in all our relationships. Systemic evils deprive people of their intrinsic rights and working to help restore these rights is the work of justice.

Living Justly

In Pope Francis I newest apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness in today’s world, a section entitled “The Great Criterion” speaks to the inextricable link between spirituality and justice.  Realizing that Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood have sought to recognize this link and live it out, there is an urgency to offer his text for everyone’s prayer and renewed self-offering to the call to live justly.  Here are some passages distilled from that text.
Rosalie Carven, CSJ

 Passages entitled “Fidelity to the Master

 “In the 25th Chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (vv.31-46) Jesus offers us one clear criterion on which we will be judged.  “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

“If we truly start out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he, himself, wished to be identified.  In this call to see him in the poor and suffering, we see revealed the very heart of Christ, his deepest feelings and choices, which every saint seeks to imitate.”

“Given these uncompromising demands of Jesus, (it is the Christian’s duty) to acknowledge and accept them in a spirit of genuine openness . . . without any “ifs or buts”.   Can holiness somehow be understood apart from this lively recognition of the dignity of the human being?”

“For Christians, this involves a constant and healthy unease. Biblical understanding is about more than simply performing certain good works.  It also means social change.  For later generations also to be released, clearly the goal has to be the restoration of just social and economic systems, so there can longer be exclusion.”

Passages entitled “Ideologies striking at the heart of the Gospel

(There are) ideologies that lead us at times to two harmful errors.  On the one hand, there is the error of those Christians who separate these Gospel demands from their personal relationship with the Lord, from their interior union with him, from openness to his grace.  Christianity thus becomes stripped of luminous mysticism.  For great saints, mental prayer, the love of God and the reading of the Gospel in no way detracted from their passionate and effective commitment to their neighbors.  Quite the opposite.”

“The other harmful ideological error is found in those who suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist.  Or they relativize it, as if there were other more important matters, or the only thing that counts (to them) is one particular ethical issue or cause they, themselves, defend.   For example, our defense of the innocent unborn needs to be clear, firm, and passionate, for at stake is  the dignity of human life which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development.  Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”

“We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.”

“We often hear it said that the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue … a secondary issue compared to the “grave” bio-ethical questions.  For a Christian, the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children.  Can we not realize that this is exactly what Jesus demands of us, when he tells us that in welcoming the stranger we welcome him? “

“This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad.  In today’s world we are called to follow the path of spiritual wisdom proposed by the prophet Isaiah to show what is pleasing to God.  “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own kin?  Then your light shall break forth like the dawn.”

“Which actions of ours are noblest?  Which external works best show our love for God?  St. Thomas Aquinas answered unhesitatingly that they are the works of mercy toward our neighbor even more than our acts of worship saying: “We worship God by our outward sacrifices and gifts, not for God’s own benefit, but for that of ourselves and our neighbor.  For God does not need our sacrifices, but wishes them to be offered in order to stir our devotion and to profit our neighbor.  Hence, mercy, whereby we supply others’ defects, is sacrifice more acceptable to God as conducing more directly to our neighbor’s well-being.”

“Those who really wish to give glory to God by their lives, who truly long to grow in holiness, are called to be single-minded and tenacious in their practice of the works of mercy.  Jesus’ words are few and straightforward, yet practical and valid for everyone, for Christianity is meant, above all to be put into practice.”