“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”
“To live a just life in this world is to identify with the longings and hungers of the poor, the meek, and those who weep. This identification and solidarity is in itself a profound form of social justice.” cac.org
Who are the poor, the meek, and those who weep? Who are the huddled masses, the vulnerable? The homeless man standing outside Micky D’s waiting for a breakfast handout, the father working two minimum wage jobs with a wife and three school-aged children, the single mother with two children in elementary school trying to get her GED while working full-time for WalMart, the mentally challenged lady who is losing her group home setting due to government budget cuts, the retired man who tries to survive on his Social Security check and has to decide between medical care or food.
The Syrian refugee family living with relatives, the Muslim woman who is hassled daily on her way to school because of her head covering, the black man who has to take the midnight bus home from his job through a white neighborhood, the woman who has suffered sexual abuse at work by her supervisor, the 13 year-old who is bullied mercilessly at school, the gay man who is threatened with death, the Mexican laborer facing deportation, the prisoner who is raped, the drug addict who lives on the streets, the jobless man facing eviction.
When I care enough to look, I see the vulnerable everywhere. They are my brothers and sisters who have not had the opportunities to prosper in a country which boasts itself as “the land of opportunity.” They are the misdirected who took destructive paths of addiction as young people. They are the ones who followed the wrong crowd. They are the product of tragedies beyond their control.
But they also are you and I. Those of us who profess a lifestyle contrary to the norms of society, who renounce Christianity’s Gospel of prosperity, who question the traditions of our forefathers are also vulnerable to the condemnation and persecution of the status quo. We seek justice – not merely for self gain but, for the welfare of everyone and every creature and every aspect of our Earth.
Dr. Cornell West states in one of his lectures:
“America is suffering massive indifference to its vulnerable people.” Cornel West
Dr. West’s focus is on the plight of African-Americans, but, his words are apropos concerning the “spiritual blackout” he sees occurring in a land which historically has welcomed the huddled masses, the poor, the meek, the weeping, the vulnerable onto its shores. He attributes much of this to corporate greed, to short-sighted politicians, and to a population which has relinquished its spiritual backbone.
Jesus spoke of justice in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11) :
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice: they will have their fill.”
Social justice is not the responsibility of our governments or our court systems. That endeavor and responsibility belongs to us . Working together in solidarity as people who hunger and thirst will fill our hearts with blessing.