Social Justice: Taking a stand for life, charity and justice

By DeKarlos Blackmon

Every January across the country, people celebrate the iconic leader, Martin Luther King Jr. This national holiday is an opportunity to renew our own commitment to justice and charity. Considering that many people have often remembered King as a drum major for justice, our common challenge is meeting our own obligations as faithful Christians to be drum majors for justice in this contemporary age. 
Pope Francis has been bringing attention to not only charity and mercy, but also to our responsibility of addressing social inequality. The Holy Father tells us, “We must not forget that true power, at whatever level, is service, which has its luminous summit on the cross.” Referencing the wisdom of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, we are reminded that “while for man, authority is often synonymous with possession, dominion, success, for God authority is always synonymous with service, humility, love.”
There really can be no true justice, no true harmony, no true righteousness, and no true integrity without love. For these reasons, our pursuit of justice must be rooted in love. As baptized members of Christ’s faithful, we are challenged every day to live the Gospel values completely. In light of the conflict around the world, in our nation, and in our communities, during this Jubilee of Mercy, we are called especially to recommit ourselves to being true peacemakers by establishing our homes as preeminent schools of reconciliation, compassion, mercy and love. We, the faithful who claim to follow Christ, must be ever mindful of our role in welcoming “the stranger.” When we are conscious of the harmful implications of discrimination and prejudices toward all people, we are able to challenge all citizens to live out our nation’s creed that all people are created equal — even those within the womb!
Every year, being that my own birthday is Jan. 22, I find myself reflecting on the tragic consequences of the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade. I exist in the world today because my mother possessed the courage to “choose life.” Her choice those many decades ago has enabled me to actively advocate for all life — from conception to natural death. When people question why this advocacy is important to me, I simply respond, “because it is a matter of faith and morals.” 
While we may not agree with every public policy decision of our government, regardless of one’s political leanings, each of us has an obligation to promote the faith, evangelizing and educating others about morals and values. We must make known Catholic principles when leaders consider policy issues. Never should we dodge or wriggle out of an invitation to “sit down at the table” for any discussions concerning the welfare of all God’s people. 
It cannot be emphasized enough, considering the various social issues that are plaguing our nation, coupled with the elections of public officials at the end of this year, how very much we must take seriously our moral responsibility to participate in civic life. Now is the acceptable time to bring our faith into the public square, to stand up for the more difficult right as opposed to the easy moral and ethical wrong. We cannot allow the calamitous politicization of the positive pro-life and social justice activities to dominate the conversation about the good news of salvation. 
I encourage everyone to participate with our bishops in the Martin Luther King Mass at the St. Mary Cathedral on Jan. 17 at 9:30 a.m., and the activities of Texas Catholic Pro-Life Day beginning with Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Parish on Jan. 23 at 10 a.m. Following the examples of our shepherds, by God’s grace we will overcome prejudice, racism, intolerance, extensive hunger and poverty. Let us continue to work to prevent euthanasia, violence, capital punishment, abortion and the many ills that destroy the dignity of the human person.
May we live the Gospel values fully and completely, and may we stand up for that which we profess to believe. Let us be willing to lose our lives for the sake of the Gospel. May the all-powerful Lord grant us his grace and keep us in his peace.