A Social Justice and Faith Webzine


by Gerry McCarthy

On the second Sunday of Lent, I attended noon Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral in downtown Toronto. The boy’s choir sang Agnus Dei: From Mass X Gregorian and Missa sine Nomine - Palestina. The sweet sounds were spiritually moving.

     But as I listened to the choir, I couldn’t help think how easily we can immerse ourselves in the trappings of religion. Music and rituals are important, but what do they mean if we don’t have social justice at the center of our Church?

     Prayer, sacrament, and community must move us toward what liberation theologians call "the preferential option for the poor." That means resisting the culture of greed and bitter rivalry.

     Lent is a journey with Christ toward a deeper understanding of our faith. It reminds us that God is present when we’re afraid and tempted by sin. Opening our hearts to Christ’s love pushes away fear while we seek reconciliation and peace.

     But we grow weary. Our social justice efforts seem small. Alice Walker writes about this problem in her book Anything We Love Can be Saved. "It has become a common feeling, I believe, as we have watched our heroes falling over the years, that our own small stone of activism, which might seem to measure up to the rugged boulders of heroism we have so admired, is a paltry offering toward the building of an edifice of hope," she observes. "Many who believe this choose to withhold their offering our of shame. This is the tragedy of our world."

     When we comfort those who mourn, feed the poor, befriend the lonely, and visit the sick –we please God. We should never discount small acts of kindness and mercy, even a telephone call to a friend who is feeling sad. They build the edifice of hope Walker speaks about so well.

     At the same time, structures of economic and political oppression must be resisted. Everywhere. We must overcome. As Fr. Daniel Berrigan says: "The faithful are called to remake the world. They know the truth, the talk. Let them walk it steadfastly, the way of holy tradition."

Gerry McCarthy is editor of The Social

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