“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”
In his daily writing for July 8th Father Richard Rohr , a proponent of social justice, states that most of the negative feedback he receives advises him to not get too political. He responds,
“Yet how can I read the Bible and stay out of politics? Again and again (approximately 2,000 times!) Scripture calls for justice for the poor. The Gospel is rather “socialist” in its emphasis on sharing resources and caring for those in need.”
Well said. If I read in Scriptures about the life and works of Jesus, the Christ, if I profess this same Jesus as my Lord, if I receive Jesus within my heart and pattern my life according to His, then how can I not be political? Jesus was the ultimate petitioner for the poor and needy. He opposed the wealth of the greedy, the corruption of Judaism, and the oppression of Rome in his ministry to the downtrodden of Israel. He did so knowing that his would not be a pleasant trip through an earthly life and that a violent death awaited him on the cross. Yet, in human form he persisted because that is what humanity is supposed to do. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked and heal the sick regardless of the consequences.
“The primary role of religion and spirituality is to reconnect, the very meaning of the Latin word “religio”. The Greek word “polis”—which led to the word politics—simply means city or public forum, where people come together. Why have religion and politics become so antagonistic when they have similar goals?” Richard Rohr
America boasts its Christian roots. History tells us that Christians were at the forefront of social movements to end slavery, support women’s rights, encourage laws providing civil rights, Mediare, Social Security, and Medicaid. Most famously America has welcomed the downtrodden and oppressed from other nations regardless of creed or race. We are a beacon of hope to the hopeless, a land of opportunity for everyone.
The Gospel is often called the Good News because it carries a message of not only redemption, but also hope for those who have no hope. The refugee, the widow, the orphan, the persecuted, the outcasts of society are the target of Jesus’ ministry today just as back in 1st century Israel. The oppressed are empowered by words which tell them that God loves them equally regardless of social status, wealth or faith profession. Because of that Good News we know that all mankind dwells within the family of a mighty and just God.
14 My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? 15 Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. 16 What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? 17 In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity. JAMES 2:14-17 CEB
The above verse from the Book of James is well-known in recovery programs. It reminds me that my success in defeating alcohol has been a miracle, a gift from the Higher Power of my understanding. But, it is not free. A continued and contented sobriety requires payments. Service to others is written on my IOU to God. “Faith without works is dead.”
“Today I am encouraged to see many of my Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist brothers and sisters actively engaged with the political realm, speaking truth to power, and holding our political leaders accountable. Being political is a basic civic, human, and spiritual duty!” Richard Rohr