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WE MUST ACT IN JUSTICE – BUT WITH LOVE TOWARDS ALL

Father Francis's picture
Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Micah 2:1-5 & Mt. 12:14-21

Some scholars have referred to the prophets of the Old Testament as being the conscience of the people of God. Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah, was one of these men. In today's reading he attacks the wealthy landowners who have been dispossessing the poor by illegal means. He condemns exploitation of the underprivileged.

When the prophets speak out boldly and courageously against injustice, they do so for two reasons. They wish to protect the rights of God's poor but they also wish to call those who have sinned to repentance. In other words, they don’t want to destroy those who are guilty of injustice, but to save them and uphold the rights of others. But because they stirred up the conscience of the guilty, they often suffered persecution, even death. The same things happened to Jesus. Today’s Gospel tells us that the Pharisees began to plot against Jesus and to find a way to destroy Him.

In 1980 the Archbishop of San Salvador and a number of his priests were murdered because they opposed the oppression of the poor. Usually the reaction to the preaching of social justice is not so violent. But people have been known to walk out of church or to stop contributing to the collection because a priest has pricked their consciences on a social matter.

Some people protest that the Church should stay out of economic and social issues. While it is true that these can be complex, the biblical tradition in both the Old and New Testaments, gives witness that God's ministers are called to try to right injustice. We often find ourselves facing hostility and sometimes evil. It may be from an individual or an organisation. What should our reaction be?

The Gospel gives us Jesus' example of how we are to oppose injustice. But not in a confrontational way. He did not raise His voice in the streets. By not breaking the crushed reed or putting out the smouldering wick, He tried to encourage the slightest good He found in the opposition. Jesus would never condemn the Pharisees without first trying to persuade them to change their minds and hearts. That should be how we act in the face of opposition.

Lord Jesus, help us to follow Your example of standing up for justice, doing it in a peaceful and gentle manner.

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