What a gift the Gospel of Luke is for this time in our journey as a church, nation and world. The word of God is clear that to be truly a person of faith and standing for life, justice must be core to our daily living. So often we are reminded of the injustice and evil in our times. Our lives as followers of Christ cannot be void of true justice and advocacy for all. To be Christian cannot be exclusive, intolerant nor violent. As church we must be a voice for truth and justice. We live in a time of constant assult and disregard for the common good and dignity of persons.
Today we get the gift of the Prophet Amos as he calls the people of Judah to justice. What is striking about Amos chapter 8 is that the prophet identifies and calls out not only injustice but the desire and enthusiasm to engage in evil injustice against the poor. The evil hearts of the unjust look forward to the end of the Sabbath and for a new day to begin so that they can defraud and steal from the poor. What is particularly grievous is they plot such injustice against those who are particularly dear to God’s own heart. The orphans, immigrants, widows and the poor formed a special relationship as the Anawim (those who found themselves bowed down due to their circumstance) with God. They are particularly dependent upon God and the His ability to move in the hearts of true believers to meet and provide for those most in need. This is to say God has a preferential option for the poor and those on the peripheries.
“Hear this, you who trample upon the needy
and destroy the poor of the land!
“When will the new moon be over,” We will buy the lowly for silver,
and the poor for a pair of sandals.“
Even in our time we see this injustice continue as we see immigrants used as pawns. We see the funding for the poor misused and outright stolen to benefit a particular interest to build a volleyball court in Mississippi. The falsehood, deception and outright theft to defraud the poor. In stealing from the welfare system, food is taken away from the mouths of children and the roof from over the heads of the those who need housing. The poorest state in the union robbed of funding to support the most in need.
As we witness the evil assertions that have no basis in truth that is before us each day we cannot be dismayed. This week I was encouraged as I participated in the F.A.ST justice ministry board meeting. The Pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church reminded us that what we do as we work and grow justice ministry with now 50 churches and congregations, Christians and Jews alike is the coming together for good. Women and men of faith, all though different can respect, support and work together. This is a model for our divided world. Pastors from Unitarian congregations, Catholic Parishes, Jews and Protestants can come together to form a single strong voice for justice. Together we are stronger, we recognize the dignity and beauty of each one. This was evident in a beautiful symbol of a Catholic Priest and a Jewish Rabbi pray the priestly prayer of Arron, the first priest, as we prayed God’s blessing as we sent forth one of our own justice staff to lead in the development of justice ministry in Savannah.
Fr Stephan Brown, SVD, FAST Staff member Alli, and Rabbi Joshua Label
‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’
We come together and unite in a common voice, divisions can end and people who genuinely desire the acceptance and dignity truly of all individuals can witness to our community, nation and world that we can not just coexist, not simply tolerate but we can appreciate, love and support one another although we have differences.