Justice Reflections From Fr. Claude

Sixth Sunday of Easter

It is two weeks to Pentecost Sunday where we celebrate the presence of Jesus’ Spirit in the world. It is a Spirit completely opposed to the world’s prevailing spirit of competition, violence, misogyny, and alienation from creation. The readings recognize human family, cooperation, non-violence, and respect for the Earth as foundational in our lives and where we recognise the Spirit within ourselves and others which is often at odds with the “truth” of the world.  This truth is the presence of the sacred in every human being enables us to recognise Christ in ourselves and all we meet.

Today’s readings combine joy and healing [Acts], hope [I Peter], relationship and solidarity among ourselves and with God [John]. This solidarity becomes real in our expressions of love in action, in justice and peace. We witness how the ‘advocate’, the Spirit, unconditionally offers both comfort and courage. The consolation does not wrap us in a safe warm fuzzy cocoon but is the loving nudge a bird gives her fledglings to leave the nest. ‘This is what the Holy Spirit does, thrusting us out of our ecclesiastical nest into mission.’ (Fr Timothy Radcliffe). When Jesus says there are many rooms in God’s house, he is not referring to a future room in heaven but a place for every one of us now and always in God’s heart. It is an invitation to live in God’s embrace along with all our siblings. This is not exclusive to us alone, or our social class, race or religion but involves building a community of love where there is reciprocity, mutuality, solidarity, and service. We share kinship with all people and all creation where no one can be considered a stranger and no one be untouched by the suffering and needs of others. We have been given the poor, the sick, the dying, the wounded, and fearful as a point of contact with Jesus.

The scriptures are filled with the call to justice and is highly political. Living our discipleship can be very messy. God’s presence cannot be contained by us or the church. According to Pope Francis we all need to discern the way that Jesus points out. It involves leaving old ways of thinking and doing and leaving our comfort zones of thought and action to reach out to the 'peripheries' where real people live in slavery, are oppressed, suffer violence, seek liberation, peace and fairness. Pope Francis want s to thrust us into the world that God loves: ‘Go down into the underground, and pass from the hyper-virtual, fleshless world to the suffering flesh of the poor. This is the conversion we have to undergo. And if we don’t start there, there will be no conversion.’ [The Joy of the Gospel #20.]


The cry for peace with justice comes to us from all directions within our country, other countries, and the church. Jesus came to bring wholeness to a broken world and equality to an unequal world and knows how we can feel overwhelmed and discouraged in the face of these problems. We are called to trust as the ‘Advocate’ comes alongside. To love as Jesus loved is to stand alongside the other and sit with her or him. Anyone wanting to know what God looks like must look at the face our neighbour. Any prayer for peace or justice needs to be connected with the way we act for that peace or justice. And this Spirit helps us distinguish the sounds and voices of egoism, greed, consumerism and violence that silence the voices of the poor and creation from the voice of God. The ‘Advocate’ confronts whatever invades or destroys our earth; the systems that promote grasping and acquisitiveness; those that make war or abuse the weak; those who set themselves apart from others based on political and religious beliefs, race, sexuality or gender. It challenges whatever controls, dominates or shrinks us.


People protesting injustices regarding Indigenous health; homelessness; neglect of people with mental illness and disability, the lack of care and reverence for the Earth; and uncritical support for militarism over foreign aid, are Spirit filled advocates who ‘come alongside’. Their actions suggest that we must do life differently and that another world is possible, in fact, inevitable. We are called to listen – to listen to the voices of people who needing to draw attention to whatever pains, oppresses or threatens them. It is not enough to intellectually accept Jesus’ rising. He still bears the wounds of his passion, and they are found in the daily experience of people who continue to experience his crucifixion. This is how Jesus will be recognised and seen by people. This is how he becomes real for us. It is not just where we stand on issues but who we stand with and sit with. To talk about love of the other, love of the enemy, is only worth anything when one goes over to the other and does something. This is the only way we reshape ordinary life and create a new political space. We are called to be agents of God’s comfort compassion, justice, tenderness, and strength to those who are most vulnerable in our everyday lives. Indeed, God is screaming in the suffering of people and at our systems and institutions that cause and perpetuate suffering. The Creed says Christ ‘descended into hell’ to rise again. Who do we descend into ‘hell’ with? Who do we help rise from their ‘death,’ however big or small? We have before us the images of Christ who daily experience more of his crucifixion than he his resurrection. Those images are made real before our eyes as we see the ‘wounds’ of people around us and overseas. Joy, unlike happiness, is found by turning outwards-toward the other and the Earth

The call to us is to realise that the Spirit of Christ resides in everyone - and in all of creation. It's not dependent on externals like going to church, being a Catholic or even a Christian, but on opening our eyes and on waking up to the Spirit's presence everywhere - despite the self-induced sleep and blindness of ‘the world.’ We are all temples. Our bodies matter- not buildings. It's simply about opening our eyes and embracing the truth that God's Spirit is like the very air we breathe.


Let us go back to our sources where the early church linked faith in God and not only seeing but also responding to the forgotten and invisible in society and the church.  In the Acts of the Apostles, we see how the early church created innovative ways of caring for the poor. We, as church, are called to be signs of God’s presence in the world. We are called to serve all humanity in a spirit of love and with total commitment, in a radical and heroic way. May we all find a way to be with those who suffer, and show them the way (of love), the truth (of love), and the life (of love) of Christ. We cannot be so near to pain and not act. We cannot remain behind stained glass closed off from the voices that call to us from the streets, from the places of violence, hunger and poverty and pain.



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