By Dss. NORMA P. DOLLAGA
May 9, 2021
6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
1 Jn 4:7-10
Usually, when we talk about justice, we imagine the lamentations, the wails of an angry people seeking for its realization. In contrast when we talk about love, we conjure up images of lesser complication or complexities, but about harmony and blissful condition.
Only those who are capable of true love can fully understand what justice is. And those who are engaged in justice ministry are people full of love. For how can you share your love without justice ? And how can you render justice without love. And so we say that the most loving people are those who are engaged in the struggle for justice.
If God is love, there is no reason for us to believe that God is not the God of justice. Love and Justice are rooted in the very nature of God (Is.40:14). We remain in God’s love as long as we embrace the values of justice.
Justice means to care for the widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor . (Exodus 22:21-24; Isaiah 1:17) Zechariah 7:9-10a gives an instruction: “This is what the Lord of Armies says: Administer real justice, and be compassionate and kind to each other. Don’t oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people.” Those who have been called “the quartet of the vulnerable.”
Justice is making things right. Usually when we speak of “righteousness” we understand it as a private, personal virtue. However, in the Biblical tradition, righteousness means being in the right relationship with the community and society. When people are poor, oppressed and marginalized, things are not right.
The greatest commandment to love your God is made concrete only when you love your neighbor. The first part, that is to “love God.”
The second part of the commandment is the real verification that faithful ones truly observe the commandment, and thus, “love their neighbor.” This concrete, operational manifestation of faithfulness to God (however one may define God) cannot be subjected to manipulation. Do you love your neighbor?
To love our neighbor is to thirst for justice (Matthew 5:6)
Justice and righteousness are interchangeable. To be just is to be righteous. It is not enough to be good to your neighbor; it is not enough to do no harm to your neighbor. By not taking side of justice one is also doing harm to your neighbour.
When love longs and thirst for justice, that love also feels the pain and agony of seeing the victims of injustice. This love is unyielding, and unbending but to pursue justice.(Deut 16:20). This love is never neutral; takes its bias for what is just, fair, and true.
Loving our neighbor stirs us within as we witness an unjust disparity in the world – the rich grow fatter than usual , while those who are robbed are forced to bear excruciating hunger and poverty.
Loving our neighbor means making sure that justice is done.
Loving one’s neighbor involves a righteous indignation against injustice that causes suffering to its direct victims. It is alarming when humanity starts to be numb and indifferent to the situation of poverty, joblessness, no access to clean water, and basic and social services. The widow in the parable of Jesus, being avid for justice and enraged when justice is denied reveals most fitting acts and instinctive demonstration of love. To be angry against injustice is better than to keep mum about it.
If we love our neighbor, we would not blame the victims of injustice for their predicaments. It is not the sin or the fault of the poor that they are robbed. The victims must not be victimized twice by blaming them.
To do justice is to Love our neighbor.
Justice and love dedicated to our neighbor means to look after those who are made victims by their exploiters and oppressors. We have in Filipino a term for victims of injustice: “hampas-lupa.” – poor people who are considered dust
Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing ,reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).