written by Ryan Thurman
photo taken: Woodland Community Garden 2011-2019
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God
I feel inadequate to write about the theme of justice. The reality is that all too often I easily settle into my life of privilege and ignore those desperately crying out for justice. My sins also make me complicit in the creation of, as well as, the continued existence of unjust ideas and systems that dishonor and destroy those made in the image of God. While at times, I have given myself to those who are being crushed under the weight of injustice and have even uprooted myself and gone with the poor in their suffering as Oscar Romero writes, I still have this nagging question, are we called to more than this? I think of Bonhoeffer’s statement that, “we are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” We see Jesus throughout the gospels doing both. He is caring for and protecting those who are abused and also confronting the oppressors. The woman caught in adultery is a perfect example of Jesus caring for someone who was being degraded, shamed and used by those in power for their oppressive and controlling purposes. Jesus, rescued her from being stoned to death, forgives her and takes the time to speak hope and truth into her life. Jesus often confronted leaders who were using their power incorrectly. They were using it to elevate and protect their positions and self-interests at the expense of the most vulnerable, who they were supposed to be helping. We can learn to do justice by following Jesus in loving our neighbors, bringing healing into the broken lives and spaces that surround us and by offering the healing balm of truth and reconciliation and by learning to confront evil and injustice in every form and commit to never again look the other way.
Loving Father, you are the source of steadfast love and faithfulness, in you, righteousness and peace embrace. Empower us to stand up to the oppressors and abusers and always have the compassion and courage to ‘stand with’ those who suffer injustice.