We must do

Thus says the LORD: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”

When we think of the Old Testament, what is the first thought that comes to mind? For some it is the personalities – Adam, Even, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Ruth, Esther, Isaiah and the prophets. For some, it is the journeys – the exodus and journey to the Promised Land, the exiles, and the returns to Jerusalem.

For others, the Old Testament is filled with judgment, war, betrayal, and hard laws. Some point to the many slaughters that took place and even question how God could condone such things.

Regardless of perspective, what most fail to recognize is that the Old Testament is replete with God’s call to justice. He continually called His people to do justice to their own and to those who were foreigners. His prophets continually called the rulers and people to recall justice and put aside injustice. Micah spoke to the rulers and priests saying: Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not for you to know justice?

A really quick reference review indicates 212 biblical verses about justice; another 22 refer to acting justly.

Jesus came to offer humanity the fullness of God’s promise, to complete the law of the Old Testament. He came not to act as an opponent of the law. His goal was not to prevent its fulfillment. Rather, He revered it, loved it, obeyed it, and brought it to fruition. He fulfilled God’s call to perfect obedience and in obedience He acted with perfect justice. He calls us to live the very same justice. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, we recognize His command as perfect. Like Him, we must know and do justice. To do justice we must first and foremost recognize the inherent human dignity of each person and do nothing to diminish it, to steal it, or hurt it. By actions and work our parish family builds human dignity. As we do here, we must do every day in our homes, work, and leisure.