Justice and Light for the Nations

The reading from Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 on January 10, 2020, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, reminds us what the coming of Christ meant for our world.

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.1

Most of us are still reeling from the shock of watching the violent attack on our nation’s Capitol last Wednesday. How are we to understand this heinous crime against democracy and its implications for our own culpability? As a religious woman I will challenge myself to consider this question and to contemplate its answer.
I was glued to the television on Wednesday from 1 pm on, in and out of the night, in disbelief that America has come to this, that WE have come to this, that I have come to this! We’ve all watched the slow progression of lies, hatred, violence, bullying, prejudice, self-righteousness and entitlement too long. We need to name it and claim it when we see it and when we ourselves fall into those kinds of behaviors. We are better than that! How can I witness the call of the Gospel and the realization of justice with love in my heart and peace in my soul, with integrity, truth and a belief that each man, woman and child is my brother and sister, a child of God and a citizen of our common home?
Two women who are friends of mine and members of one of our Ursuline associated groups shared with me their own reflections on personal responsibility and accountability in light of the dark time we are experiencing in our nation. With their permission, I share their honest convictions with you.

Ruth: After the sad events that unfolded on Wednesday, I can't let the day pass without speaking out. It felt like 9/11 to me, and I couldn't fall asleep for the terrible images that came to haunt me. It reminded me of a story I once heard about two wolves who live inside each of us: one is evil and one is good. A simple question was asked: “Which one wins?” A simple answer was given: “The one you feed.” I have that story stuck in my mind and have told it to my grandchildren, reminding them about it whenever they cross the line.
It is a day of reckoning for all of us. How have our actions and words guided us? Do we allow amoral actions to happen and not stand up for what we know in our hearts is wrong? As an immigrant, the constitution and the flag of the USA is sacred, and I will not allow anyone or anything to desecrate it. One person even had the audacity to drape a JESUS 2020 banner at the scene as if somehow including the name of Jesus gives one the license to trespass and vandalize a sacred place in actions that ended in five deaths. That's not who I am! That’s not who you are! So let’s take a moment to contemplate, reflect and resolve to reach for higher ideals – the ones for which the name of Jesus really stands. I will strive to speak out when I see evil unfolding and never be an enabler of corrupt leaders by turning a blind eye – or my vote!

Amy: I am still trying to process all of my emotions over this: sadness, anger, embarrassment; the feelings just keep flowing. The evil, hatred, instilling of fear, bullying, suppression, preying on those who are ignorant of our constitution and processes - this all must stop! How can I, can we, sit back in silence when all around us is dark? I pray for peace and hope and the grace to be strong enough and wise enough to know when it is time for me to speak up. How can we stand on common ground together at a time when we feel so alone and helpless? It gives me hope that this is possible when I can be comforted that there are good people around me that believe in the same core Christian values I do and who truly value human rights and the dignity of every person.

God is challenging each of us to witness what is right and just.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice; I have grasped you by the hand. I formed you and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations ... and (for) those who live in darkness.

The world is watching. Let us beg the God on whom this country was founded to bless and protect our duly elected President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. May they have the moral integrity to lead by example, to inspire faith in our systems and our leaders, and to bring healing and hope to our people so we can become a UNITED States of America once again.
God bless us all!

Sister Julianne McCauley in collaboration with Ruth Narendrun and Amy Sorensen
The New American Bible, revised edition c. 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 by the Confraternity of Catholic Doctrine, Washington D.C. All rights reserved.
The New American Bible, revised edition c. 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 by the Confraternity of Catholic Doctrine, Washington D.C. All rights reserved.

Sister Julianne McCauley