Christians and Social Justice
TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Christians and Social Justice
Social Justice is the working definition of Christian consciousness and holiness in action. It is the deepest expression of Caritas and Filial Love. It is Christ-like solidarity with our brethren in all of their distress. It is the conscious distancing of one’s self from wickedness, schemes, arrogance, covetousness, contempt, cursing, guile, oppression, mischief, deceit, exploitation, murder and willful destruction and neglect of the poor, and the vulnerable – all of which is a blatant disregard of God’s notion of stewardship and accountability.
Christian social justice, in other words, is a willful application of the Ten Commandants and the two greatest commandments. It is a deliberate effort on the part of Christians to become lived expressions of the Beatitudes and to exhibit the spirituality espoused in the Lord’s Prayer. The Our Father, which keeps Christians forever mindful that authentic Christian spirituality, must strive for fraternity, sorority, equality, bread, justice and solidarity among all the children of God. No one should be discounted and left wanting (Acts.2:42). Authentic Christian social justice distances itself from individualism and materialism; it stands ever ready, like God the Father, to defend the poor and to be its neighbours’ keeper.
Blatant disregard for the poor in our midst has serious repercussions for one’s salvation. God does not take lightly to the abuse of the poor. God personally embodies the oppression of the underprivileged. He laments, he who oppresses the poor, oppresses his creator (Prov.14:31). The parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk.16:16:19-31) is reminiscent of Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the Last Judgment, both remind us that Christian stewardship and accountability do not overlook injustice – we must account for our misdeed and neglect of the poor at our gates. Humankind is answerable to God for their pattern of thought, their sense of judgment, and patterns of behaviour in the final analysis. The fate of the rich man and the goats in the respective above-mentioned parables must remind us that we have an obligation to remember the three last things: death, judgment, and dissolution. Remembering the last things will help us grow in wisdom and transform us into genuine advocates of Christian social justice.
Sometimes we grow into victims of a latent complacency; engrossed by our self-importance we become oblivious of the historical, social, political, economic and religious context in which we live. When this happens, social injustice becomes the norm. We become insensitive to the pains, sufferings and plight of the sufferers among us. Even then, God does not judge us. He stands in solidarity with us in our ignorance. By means of his daily word, he awakens our consciousness to the inaudible voice of the poor and powerless among us and transforms us into selfless servants like himself, if we obey his voice and follow his commandments.
The astounding message of Prophet Amos, recognised among the prophets as the prophet of social justice is a flagrant reminder that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but would rather seek their repentance and give them a chance to experience his fair judgement. God and Christ are doing the same in today’s Liturgy of the Word. By pointing out the errors of those who preceded us, God and Christ are challenging us to raise the bar – behave like children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.
What does God want from us, as his children? His demands are simple: holiness, righteousness and justice all the days of our lives. Paul eloquently voiced this in his appeal to Timothy. He urged Timothy to be faithful to his vocation and mission – with no faults or failures until the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ (1Tim.6:11-16). In other words, regardless of our stature in Christ or in the Church, our sense of social justice will be the measuring rod by which God will judge us at the final judgment.
O God, teach me to love unconditionally as you have loved us all