The 20th February is the UN World Day of Social Justice. The UN’s 2019 theme for this day is: “if you want peace and development, work for social justice”.
Our contribution to the realisation of a ‘just world’ is not confined to just one day, It is a life time commitment. It is enough to follow the details we know of Nano Nagle’s life to realise the nature of the courage, faith and commitment required. A very particular kind of courage, faith and commitment.
Nano was creative and courageous in ‘reading’ the call of God to her through her experience. In the plight of the poor and deprived of her time she heard the call of God. We, her followers, and all who are inspired by her example and her spirit, are called to be no less creative, no less courageous and no less discerning in our time and place. ~ (Mary T. O’Brien, page 115: ‘Nano Nagle and an Evolving Charism’).
Her legacy continues to inspire us with a vision that is not narrow, but that is as broad as the Universe.
The need for social justice
Right now our world needs justice more than ever. Immigrants and refugees are being vilified, people are being unfairly incarcerated, and are being discriminated against based on their race, gender, and religion. The structural and societal frameworks that we take for granted to act justly on our behalf often appear to fail us, resulting in a preponderance of very many indicators of a broken society on our very doorsteps.
God’s justice on the other hand stands out because of its accessibility to the marginalised. This justice is visible and practical within the context of defending the powerless and living, praying and working to redress the historic imbalance of fairness and justice that plagues all societies. It is of benefit to everyone as it is not dictated by man-made laws, branches of government, political parties, lobbyists, or authoritarian officials. Nor is it fuelled by populist opinions or partisan rage, or facilitated by systems and institutions that are broken. Instead, God’s justice is holy, eternally seeking to free the enslaved and empower the oppressed.
Such justice is founded on the principles of ‘loving God with all your heart, and loving your neighbour as yourself’. And such love makes us free. Nano gave her life, freely, for the spread of the gospel through word and witness. As a faith-based people often it is possible to avoid the pursuit of justice because it’s “too political” or “too controversial” or because we simply cannot forsake our political and ideological beliefs. There is no middle ground between justice and injustice.
Let our ears hear your voice,
And let the brightness of your love be round about us.
And let us glimpse your mystery.
And do not let us miss Your coming
Because it is so commonplace, so every day,
So far from what we think befits Your beauty.
But let faith lead us to the knowledge,
Light us daily in awareness
That, swaddled in the bands of each one’s weakness,
You are flesh amongst us still.
~ Raphael Consedine, pbvm
See: The Evolution of a Charism
#worlddayofsocialjustice #SDG’s #endpoverty #livingwithpurpose