Reflections for Racial Justice Sunday

18/08/2015 12:00 pm

Pope Francis

The first two readings today evoke attitudes that are all too common in the world that we live in: active discrimination against others because of their religion, colour, age, sexuality or race (Isaiah) and passive indifference to the needs of those less well-off than us (St James). These attitudes contradict one of the foundational elements of Catholic Social Teaching, around the inherent dignity of all human beings. “The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1700). As Christians getting to know Jesus and recognising his humanity is a major step in recognizing ourselves. Only then can we recognize and embrace the dignity of other human beings. We cannot pursue justice in our communities or society when we fail to recognize each person’s God-given human dignity.

Racial Justice Sunday calls on all of us to ask the questions, “Where do I stand?” and “What am I doing”. The questions Pope Francis asks us when speaking of the migrants at Lampedusa. The same questions that arise on hearing the news of migrants trying to force passage into the UK from Calais which are no different from those that crop up about the future provision for the sick and frail in my communities. What am I doing for the hungry and the homeless, the person overlooked for a promotion at work because he speaks differently, the teacher stabbed in the stomach because of his colour or the elderly relative I am keen to put away, because it is so hard to cope? Likewise do I care or speak up for those who are tortured, locked away in prisons and detention centres? Hard questions to which there are no easy answers.

As part of our prayer today for Racial Justice, let us offer those for whom we pray the courtesy of moving beyond generalities and platitudes to think about how “I” can answer Pope Francis’ questions.

Today's Readings

Isaiah 50:4-9
Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for me to know how to give a word of comfort to the weary. Morning by morning he makes my ear alert to listen like a disciple.

Lord Yahweh has opened my ear and I have not resisted, I have not turned away.

I have offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; I have not turned my face away from insult and spitting.

Lord Yahweh comes to my help, this is why insult has not touched me, this is why I have set my face like flint and know that I shall not be put to shame.

He who grants me saving justice is near! Who will bring a case against me? Let us appear in court together! Who has a case against me? Let him approach me!

Look, Lord Yahweh is coming to my help! Who dares condemn me? Look at them, all falling apart like moth-eaten clothes!

James 2:14-18
How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation?

If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on,

and one of you says to them, 'I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,' without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that?

In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead.

But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith.