By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ, & Director, CREDI. Visit rcsocialjusticett.org for our columns, media releases and more.
Today’s Gospel, Mark 9:2–10, tells the story of the transfiguration of Jesus. God’s message to Peter, James and John via the voice from the cloud, applies to us also, particularly in the times in which we live. He said: “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.”
You will recall that in Matthew 3:13–17, as soon as Jesus was baptised and came out from the water, “the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.”
The transfiguration shows Jesus in all His divine glory. As followers, we are called to listen to Him. But are we listening or, as the saying goes, ‘stick break in our ears’?
Jesus taught us how to live as authentic disciples and this involves, as is stated in Micah 6:8, DOING justice. Our God is a God of justice and He wants us, as a Eucharistic people, to promote justice in our daily lives. Justice is a cardinal virtue. Are we rendering what is due to God and to others?
I urge you all to resolve this year to be missionaries of justice and peace. Canon 222:1 states that “the Christian faithful are obliged to promote social justice, and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources”. And Canon 528:1 states that pastors are “to foster works through which the spirit of the gospel is promoted, even in what pertains to social justice”.
How can we ensure social justice? Our Catechism, 1928, tells us that: “Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.”
If we really listen to the voice of the Lord we will be transformed and be able to read the signs of the times and discern what we need to do to play our part in building a just society/world. The command: “Listen to him”, is a call to action.
The World Synod of Catholic Bishops 1971 document: Justice in the World, makes it clear that: “…unless the Christian message of love and justice shows its effectiveness through action in the cause of justice in the world, it will only with difficulty gain credibility with the people of our times…The members of the Church, as members of society, have the same right and duty to promote the common good as do other citizens. Christians ought to fulfil their temporal obligations with fidelity and competence. They should act as a leaven in the world, in their family, professional, social, cultural and political life” (35, 38).
Pope Francis’ challenge to youth in Poland during the 31st World Youth Day in 2016, applies to all of us. Inter alia, he urged them to reject being a ‘couch potato’ who retreats into video games and computer screens and instead engage in social activism and politics to create a more just world. He said: “Dear young people, we didn’t come into this world to vegetate, to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on. No, we came for another reason: To leave a mark….Jesus is the Lord of risk … not the Lord of comfort, security and ease. Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths.”
At a Mass earlier that day, he had told priests, nuns and young seminarians that Jesus wants the Church “to be a Church on the move, a Church that goes out into the world”. Let us dedicate ourselves to go out in our communities and reach out to those in need; become advocates for justice—speaking truth to power. Do not be afraid. Remember the words in 2 Timothy 1:7: “God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord…”
St Gregory Palamas said, during the transfiguration, “Jesus did not become what he was not already, but appeared to the disciples as he was, opening their eyes, giving sight to those who were blind.” Like them, let us SEE-JUDGE-ACT—a process affirmed by Pope St John XXIII in Mater et Magistra, #236, 1961.
“If we really listen to the voice of the Lord we will be transformed and be able to read the signs of the times and discern what we need to do to play our part in building a just society/world.”