Social Justice: Practicing justice, mercy, humility without partiality
By DeKarlos Blackmon
Lent provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on our responsibilities beyond ourselves through justice, mercy and humility, as God requires us. In my approach to Lent this year, I have been reflecting on Micah 6:8 “do justice and ... love goodness, and ... walk humbly with your God” without regard to prejudice, biase or partiality.
When meeting with black Catholics in the Archdiocese of New Orleans in September 1987, St. John Paul II called on them to share the gift of their blackness. He urged, “Keep alive and active your rich cultural gifts. Always profess proudly before the whole Church and the whole world your love for God’s Word; it is a special blessing which you must forever treasure as a part of your heritage.”
In an effort to show that this charge was in no way limited to the black community, the Holy Father continued, “It is important to realize that there is no black Church, no white Church, no American Church; but there is and must be in the one Church of Jesus Christ a home for blacks, whites, Americans, of every culture and race.” St. John Paul II was conveying that the church, the revealed truth, must be present in every human environment.
Our baptism signifies the universal call of the Gospel and incorporates us into Christ and the eschatological community. We cannot belong to Christ without being a part of the whole Body of Christ. Being born again to new life in Christ brings forward a whole community and family of faith. We have all been baptized into the common priesthood of the faithful and we have an obligation to society as a whole. We cannot separate our faith from our culture. We are called to live out the Gospel values in the world. We are called to be beacons of hope in a society that is sometimes dim and gloomy.
What is the secret of the success in our Christian lives? We have been told what is good, we have been told what the Lord requires of us: to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God. The eternal truths of Jesus Christ are before us: we know that to whom much is given, much shall be required, we know that God cannot be outdone in generosity, and we know well that every day is a day of thanksgiving.
Jesus reminds us that when the Son of Man comes in his glory, he will divide “all the nations” into two groups. Those who have done good deeds for one of “these least brothers of mine” will be blessed. The good deeds are feeding the hungry, offering hospitality to the homeless, clothing the naked, comforting the sick and visiting the imprisoned. These deeds deserve a reward at the last judgment because of the relationship of identity between the Son of Man and “the least” (Mt 25:31-46).
Micah’s words are just as important for us in this contemporary age as when they were spoken millennia ago. This Lent we are compelled to hearken to the call to live, as God requires us, beyond ourselves through justice, mercy and humility. God calls us to bring justice to a fallen world, tempered by mercy. This combination is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.
When we live the profound words of the prophet Micah, people will surely ask us, “Why do you act like that? Why are you going out of your way to help those people? Why do you even care?” We will be able to certainly answer effectively, “The love of Christ (impels) us” (2 Cor 5:14). It is our Christian faith that we are called to put into action by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and in caring for our brothers and sisters. The love of Christ impels us to care for the needs of all our neighbors.
May the Mother of God, through her never-failing intercession, always watch over the particular church of Austin, with all of our blessed diversity, as we strive to do the work of her Son in this world. May there be no aspect of our private or public lives that is not in perfect harmony with the teachings of the church. May the Gospel message come alive through each of us this Lent and forever!