In the twentieth century, three prophets, Dietrich Bonheoffer, Malcolm X and Aung San Suu Kyi, who struggled against oppression, paid the price with their lives or their freedom because of their determined commitment to justice and reconciliation. Faced with the tyranny of the Nazis, white racism or military dictatorship, and supported by their Christian, Muslim or Buddhist faiths, they took action in favour of universal values. In this twenty first century, where communication is immediate and global, cries are heard all around the world and the planet, cries of women, children, men, the poor, the starving, oppressed, mistreated, deported and tortured people. And through the voices of prophets we can also hear the cries of the endangered fauna and flora.
Other cries are stifled… Do I hear them?
Who will speak for them? Who will be their prophet today?
Our zeal encourages us to go beyond ourselves, to put merciful love in action and maintain our determination. « Mystics are not only ecstatic or contemplative people: they are also, and essentially, people of action »
What does God say about Justice?
In the Old Testament, the prophet Amos in his oracle to Israel underlines that Divine justice is not pleased with the actions of the people, the belittling of justice, the greed of the "powers that be" and sacred prostitution. It makes God angry:
« ..Because they have sold the virtuous man for silver and the poor man for a pair of sandals, and because they trample on the heads of ordinary people and push the poor out of their path, because father and son have both resorted to the same girl, profaning my holy name ... and they drink the wine of the people they have fined in the house of their god… » (Amos 2: 6-
« I hate and despise your feasts; I take no pleasure in your solemn festivals. When you offer me holocausts, I reject your oblations, and refuse to look at your sacrifices of fattened cattle. Let me have no more of the din of your chanting, no more of your strumming on harps. » Amos 5 : 21-
God hears and sees the misery of God’s people, but God also sees the actions of those who could help them. God looks at the actions of the latter with disgust. What God desires above all things and what pleases God is to:
« Let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream.» Amos 5:24
What God expects from us is:
« To act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God.» Micah 6: 8
All through his life, Jesus was confronted with the poverty and injustice experienced by the people of his time. During his public life, Jesus was in the synagogue, in the streets of Jerusalem, in the squares of the villages, in small villages, in isolated farms, in the country. He carried out concrete neighbourly actions of justice and love for the poor and the rejected.
One day a leper came close and Jesus touched him, though it was written in the law: «The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare (…) he shall cry out, 'Unclean, unclean!' As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp» (Lev 13: 45-
Having listened to what God says, let us listen to the Church:
« The personal and social dimensions of faith cannot be disassociated. Commitment to social justice is a concrete way to give hands and feet to our faith and to our love, and to provide evidence « of Christian hope in the world.»
Throughout her life St. Mary Euphrasia loved to remind us of the importance of human dignity: for her as for St. John Eudes, « one person is worth more than the world », « whatever the colour of her tears, they are very bitter », she said. She did everything she could for women to be « empowered » and to become responsible women integrated in society.
Following in her footsteps, and in creative fidelity to her vision, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd at the 2009 Congregational Chapter declared:
"We commit ourselves to respond to the anguish of the world calling us to the margins where God is waiting for us, by taking courageous steps to use our international resources effectively, to network …to work zealously with women and children..
And with similar resoluteness, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity in 2007 made a commitment to:
"Use our collective voice to denounce the unjust structures which exclude persons and groups"
In our next reflection, we will look at inclusive justice at the level of our planet in relation to planetary peace and global solidarity.
I invite you to contemplate the Father, Jesus, St. John Eudes, St. Mary Euphrasia and other people who inspire you:
How does my experience bring me closer to their experience regarding inclusive justice?
What changes should I make to move closer to their example?
"I am invited to give myself to Jesus,
To work at liberating those who are crushed, oppressed…
To find the appropriate words and actions,
To tell them they are loved by God just as they are.
I am also invited to receive Mercy from them."
If you wish, you can go into Supplementary Tools to deepen your reflection with photos, videos etc.