Reflections of the Spirit

( The following was prepared by Gerald  on behalf of, and with the support of a diocesan Committee on Social Justice.  It was prepared after our Bishop asked us to draft a letter he could distribute to all parishes in the Diocese with a message on Social Justice.  We were thrilled at the opportunity and met several times to put together the ideas, and Gerald was given the task of drafting the letter itself.  The document was presented to the Bishop at a Dicesan Pastoral Council Meeting and nothing was ever heard of it again!  After a while the members of that committee decided to disband and put thir efforts to promoting the message of social justice more effectively in their own parishes and lives and abandon the fruitless efforts at the diocesan level.)


Empowered by our baptism we are called to carry forward the work of Jesus into our own times. We have heard these words or similar expressions many times in the past. Frequently this call to be faithful to the mission of our baptism lacks the focus and impact that will drive us to specific decisions and to specific actions.

When Jesus walked on this earth he was often confronted with situations where some people had power and control over things that affected their lives. We call these people "rich".

He also saw many people who were powerless to control the things that affected them. Perhaps they were ill, perhaps a widow with no means of support, perhaps persons cast out from the community because they were lepers or tax collectors, or perhaps they were individuals so enslaved to things of this world that they were unable to let go. We can call these people "poor".

We can ask ourselves, who are the "rich" and "poor" of today's world? We need to know.

We must pray and ask Jesus to help us look at our lives and our world with his eyes. We must look to sacred scripture to find that vision of Jesus. We must ask Jesus to heal our own blindness so that we can see the poverty within our own spirits and within our own communities. He will give us new eyes.

The Church in Latin America has called on the members of Christ's Body to declare their solidarity with the poor, to prefer the poor and the powerless and to bring to them the healing, warmth and support of God's love in our time as Jesus himself did in his time within time.

To declare our support and solidarity with the poor will focus us on a fundamental characteristic of Christ's Mission. Such a declaration will challenge us to examine whether the Body of Christ today acts with the same love, zeal and focus of the historical Jesus.

The Holy Spirit gives us new eyes that enable us to see as Jesus sees. This same Holy Spirit gives us courage to respond to the challenging needs of Christ's wounded body. This Spirit of Love lets us act with sensitivity and respect and so that we can bring healing and power to the wounded and to the powerless.

Jesus saw the rich who had power to affect the course of their lives and he saw the poor who lacked that power.

Always Jesus reached out to the poor and he chose to walk with the poor. He restored to them the power they lacked. Sometimes it was the power of a healed body. Sometimes it was the power of restored self esteem. Sometimes it was the power to overcome selfishness and greed. Jesus always opted for the poor.

Jesus came to free the enslaved, to heal the sick in body and mind and to bring the good news that God loves us.

We, as church, as Christ's Body, are sealed and sworn to continue Christ's mission. We are called to choose the poor and to empower them to become free to experience the love of God.

To free the poor can mean many things. It can mean helping the alcoholic to sobriety. It can mean helping children to have the food they need to grow into healthy adults as God intended. It can mean supporting the outcasts of our society, defending their rights, and restoring their dignity through our love. It can mean feeling the pain of the frightened and oppressed in our own country and around the world--- and it can mean always seeking ways to release them from these troubles.

It does mean, most fundamentally, a critical re-evaluation of our lives, of our church, and of our world so that we can recognize the poverty within ourselves as individuals and within our communities -- and then it means responding according to the insights that God will surely give us.

Let us declare ourselves to be in solidarity with Christ. Let us declare ourselves to be in solidarity with the poor, for surely that is where Christ wants us to be.

Let this image of Christ's saving action give life and warmth to the whole body of which we are members.

As a single people, as a single community, let us take these steps courageously knowing that we walk these steps with Jesus. He has walked them before us and he knows the way.


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