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FROM THE PAVEMENT TO GOLGATHA


VII SENSE OF JUSTICE




A four-year-old child will sometimes blurt out “that’s not fair”! Where did such a young child get this sense of justice? We are made in the image and likeness of God, and so there are some latent traces of the divine in our make-up. In modern terms, you could say that we share in God’s DNA. For this reason, people have an innate sense of justice.

 

Justice is very much a part of God. Jesus’ ministry was to bring God’s justice into this world. He called us to “metanoia” (repentant), that is he called us to change our ways to God’s way. We are called to turn our ways of thinking and acting so that we can come under God’s rule. If we do not turn ourselves around, then being part of the Kingdom of heaven is made hard for us.

 

We pray “Thy Kingdom Come” but do we make it real? Do we work at turning spears into pruning hooks and swords into ploughs? How do we enhance the coming of the kingdom? What have I done to make my life more worthy of God’s kingdom?

 

We pray “Lord, Lord” but is that an empty ritual – a substitute for action? Fr. Enda McDonagh, a renowned moral theologian, wrote: “If the connection between Prayer and Action collapses, then we may as well dance around a totem pole.” We need to put into action that which we pray for; otherwise, it only leads to emptiness and underlines

Marx’s assertion that “religion is only an opiate for the people.” Marx was wrong. Christianity is an amphetamine – a get up and go stimulus. To ignore the suffering of others and offer only empty prayers is nothing short of blasphemy.


Enda McDonagh in his book The Demands of Simple Justice, further maintains that “the mission of the Church is to not only proclaim the Kingdom of God but to do everything in one’s power to bring it about.” If we merely pray for its coming and do nothing to achieve it, then we are being blasphemous. Many today upon hearing Social Justice being preached protest saying that the Church is not a political arena. Tell them to read the Benedictus and the Magnificat! For God pulls down princes and raises the lowly – is that not political action? The Church however does condemn favouring political parties.

 

The Church has to proclaim Social Justice because it continues the healing ministry of Jesus. What the Jews saw in Jesus’ miracles was people being freed- liberated from the bonds of satan who had them bound up. The healing ministry of Jesus was a clear indication that he had more power than satan. The Jews firmly believed that satan had bound up anyone who was ill or disabled in anyway. Jesus’s healing the person broke those chains of Satan. And Social Justice is also about liberating people from unjust fetters of any kind.

 

Social Justice carries on this vital work of breaking Satan’s bond today. Satan is chaining people all over the place; be they in the match factories that employ 6 and 7-year-old children for 10 hours a day loading blank match sticks into boards for coating with the Sulphur compound; the millions of sweat shops found on every continent; the inhumane conditions many are made to work in; the sex trafficking industry rampant throughout the world… In short, anywhere people are being exploited is the very place the Church finds Jesus – He is still being crucified in all these places, and

He expects us to join him there to work against the injustice. If we are not doing that then we are not advancing the Kingdom of God and letting injustice reign. It is our task to bring everywhere under God’s Justice. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “when good people do nothing, evil thrives”! So that cheap T-shirt or those lovely trainers, etc., that we buy because the price is right begs the question -  are we supporting profiteers who make their employees work in unjust working conditions for unjust wages?

Where is our political action?

 

If you think you are too small to move things you have never been under a mosquito net with a mosquito!

 

In the early 1980s, when Nelson Mandela was still in captivity and had been out of the world’s view for decades, little was known about him by the general public in Ireland. But the practice of Apartheid in South Africa was well-known and, on July 19th, 1984, Dunnes Stores worker Mary Manning refused to check out a customer’s South African fruit.


Manning, then 21, was suspended. She went on strike outside the Henry Street shop, with 10 of her colleagues. One of them was Alma Russell --“Politics would not have been top of my agenda before we went on strike; I was very young, only 18,” she recalls. “I was more into fashion and music and wasn’t really concerned about the rest of the world.

 

“I learned a lot about Nelson Mandela from South Africans who came to talk to us on the picket line. My impression of him in the 1980s was that he was a very strong person and a very principled person because of the length of time he had given up his freedom. The experience definitely made a political person of me.”



In 1985, eight strikers and their union official, Brendan Archbold, flew to South Africa at the invitation of Desmond Tutu. They were not permitted to enter, but held under armed guard and deported on the next plane. This caused much media attention back home. The strike finally ended in 1987, when a ban was introduced on South African products by the Irish government. Three years later, Mandela was freed.

 

Barclay’s bank in London was underwriting most of the finances of South Africa. Some customers were not happy with this and orchestrated a boycott of the bank. It was so successful a campaign the Barclays pressured the South African government to start talks with Mandela and the rest is history.

 

 In 1990, Nelson Mandela met with the twelve workers in Dublin. He told them that the stand they took emboldened him to keep to keep up his struggle.

So you can’t do anything, Eh????????????????














REFLECTION


How aware am I of the multitude of social injustices around the world; from slave labor in sweat shops to human trafficking; from child labor to ethnic cleansing of tribal people … ???

 

Do I make any effort to educate myself about any social justice issue?

 

Does it matter where an item came from as long as the item is cheap?

  

The only universal thing about human rights is their violation! Trampled on constantly for the sake of profit. How am I supporting such injustice?

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