Monday, August 29, 2011
In MW's vision of the Just Soul, she talks about seeing a person in the state of justice. It seemed to her that this is how God created us, before there were any sin. So she thinks of being in this state of justice as being the person God created us to be, the person God called us to be, our true self.
This reminds her about people who were called just. For example, Joseph, Mary'a husband, is called a just man. Another word with the same meaning in English is "righteous". Sometimes this sounds very strict because it means a person who keeps God's law. But God's most important law is love. We can think of these just people simply as good people. Everyone in every religion (or no religion) can look at these people and recognise that they are good (like Mother Theresa). There is an ordinary human goodness that God has given each of us like a seed. We can think about ordinary human virtues that God loves and all good people value - for example: kindness, honesty, generosity, courage, compassion (empathy, feeling for people). These are gifts of God's Spirit even in people who are not Christain.
MW talks about just people and works or acts of justice. People who are truly good, do good. They are active in helping others and making the world a better place. There is no true justice or goodness or holiness that is only nice words or ideas. There must be good actions because God's law of love is at the centre of this kind of goodness and God's love cannot be kept in a box or only in our heart. It must fill out life and go out to other people. This love is more important than any learning.
In years, the Church have developed a deeper understanding of this justice. We now see clearly that justice is about a right relationship with God, a right relationship with ourselves and other people, and a right relationship with all creation. This is the same law of love but it can help us to think about what makes a right relationship.
With other people, for example, a right relationship means that we consider and treat every person as God's loved child. In our life, we always think who is older and more important. But Jesus wants more than that. In His way, there is no different between rich or poor, man or woman, master or slave, Jew or gentile (we could say Catholic or communist), old or young. All have equal value in God's eyes. Even if we accept the idea, it is not easy to live like this, but we know this is the call of Jesus. With much practice and with God's grace, we must learn to see in every person the face of Christ. We must begin with the people we live with and work with.
In another place, MW gave us good advice about how to live like this in our daily life. On the one hand she says we should treat each other with the respect and courtesy (welcome kindly) we would give to an important visitor. And on the other hand, we should treat each other with the affection and understanding and loyalty we would give to a sister or a brother close to us in our family.
St. Ignatius also has good advice for this in the Spiritual Exercises 22. He says that a good Christain will always be more willing to believe that another person intends to be good and to do good, than to believe the opposite. This means that we choose to think (and speak) well about another person rather than thinking or speaking badly about them. In English we can call this "presuming good".
Now the Church teaches us that social justice is an important part of the trandition of Jesus, calling us to be, like Him, on the side of the poor in their struggle. In every country and even in the Church, and in many places in society, we can see that wealth and power and opportunities are not the same for everyone. This is not just. And it is not simple because it is not only about giving some money to the poor. There are structures in society (the way things work, economically, politically, legally, socially ect) which support the people who are already at the top, the rich, powerful, well-educated, and keep others at the bottom (espcially tho poor, women and children). We are part of our society and share in responsibility for this injustice. When we have more that we need and others have less than they need, we are part of the problem. And there are terrible things happening in the world. For example, every two minutes, somewhere in the world a child is sold for sex or died of famine. We must use our gifts, our opportunities, our education to work with others to change some of these things.
Care of the enviromant is also part of social justice. If the world does not have enough clean water of food, the poor will suffer first - this is already happening - and they will suffer the most. Working for peace is part of the same struggle. War causes terrible suffering, and again the poor, the women and children will suffer most.
The struggle for justice is very big and we are very small. We cannot do everything (Jesus didn't) but we can do something. We must do what we can and we must do it well, with God's grace and with great love. We need to work cooperatively with others who are trying to make the world a better place. And like Jesus, we are called to a real concern for the people who are very poor and struggling with many difficulties. We are called to bring hope and also to live hopefully, trusting in God's powerful love, so we don't just get depressed by so many problems. We do our part and trust God for the rest.
Posted by Blue Fish at 4:58 PM