Want to keep our faith? Want a better world tomorrow? … Be involved in & Support some justice issue
A little note of caution before we begin: God is not advocating war or killing the enemy. God uses real events to enlighten our minds about the way we are think and act. The event was real enough, but Israel had been forced to defend themselves. They are in the early stages of the 40 year journey in the desert.
The Staff of God represents the power and presence of God with the people in their time of need. This Staff had recently been used to strike the rock at Massah to produce water.
In our context today, from the Second Reading, the Staff of God is now Sacred Scripture. When confused or worried, allow God to encourage us through his Word: as the sight of Moses with Staff encouraged the warriors not to lose faith, so Sacred Scripture keeps our faith alive.
The instruction to Joshua to “choose men for us” can usefully instruct us that, just as all men are suitable warriors, not all those who read the Sacred Scriptures are suitable to interpret them properly. So, we should be careful who we listen to as they quote from Sacred Scripture.
Also, the location of Moses: “I, meanwhile will stand on the hilltop, the staff of God in my hand;” encourages us to see the importance of today’s Staff – Sacred Scripture. It must be above all other tools, plans or weapons in order use them the best way to face our “obstacles”.
However, just as the Staff was not a secret weapon for the Israelites (it was the way God used it); so knowledge of Sacred Scripture alone is not enough: we must allow God to use Sacred Scripture to transform our thoughts and actions, if we are to overcome our “obstacle”.
With reference to the Gospel parable of the unjust Judge, we see the power of non-violent perseverance and not losing hope, as we work towards justice.
The parable reinforces our assumption that people in senior positions have an obligation to work hard and act with integrity, especially for the poor and weak. However, here, Jesus focuses on something else: the need to keep praying and not lose heart.
Secondly, Jesus compares God and the unjust Judge to encourage us that God will do much more than the Judge: God is present, active and successful in our corrupt world, despite the people who are corrupt or evil: don’t lose hope!
Around the world today, there are many situations of injustice: Pope St John Paul II is an example of the modern day “poor widow” bringing down Communist rule in Eastern Europe.
Another example in the USA (lots of media in recent months), is the question of the right to abortion in Federal Law. The Pro-Life people worked for 50 years to have a misinterpretation of the Constitution reversed. Whether we think abortion is wrong or right, this was primarily a question of law, not morals. Despite what the media say, the issue returns to each State, where the people will decide its legality at the local level.
In addition, there are many gross injustices committed against aboriginal (indigenous) peoples around the world. Our Oblate Justice & Peace offices (JPIC) works very hard on some of these cases – as much as they can. Other groups do likewise on other cases.
In Kenya, just last month, a major victory was won by the indigenous people of Bungoma, Western Kenya, granting their land back to them after several decades of being displaced.
Perhaps the most pressing injustice in Kenya right now (apart from corruption), is the issue of child abuse around the country. I was inspired by the youth recently becoming angry at the way abuse cases were secretly sorted out between parents and the local Chief, with no concern for counselling of the child or measures to stop the offender acting again.
Each of the examples above require a community/ team of people to fight the cases of injustice (Joshua selected suitable people), rather than one individual trying to do it all.
I invite each of us to look around our local Communities and find out who are the people fighting for justice for the poor: then ask ourselves, “what can I do to help?”
Despite more modern electronics, a better internet and advances in medicine, it’s easy to see our world is worse now than 20 years ago: increased corruption, increasing numbers of immigrants/ refugees, wars, etc. However, let us listen to the final question of Christ:
“But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?”
The only way to NOT lose our faith, is to be part of the solution. Look at the brave soldiers fighting for Ukraine: huge odds against them, hard conditions, but they have kept the faith.
Can we do the same, where we are, to fight against child abuse and corruption?
By Gerard Conlan, OMI