Wake Up To Injustices

Wake Up To Injustices November 26, 2023

Lawrence OP: The Harrowing Of Hell — ” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’” / flickr

Christianity is meant to be a religion of enlightenment; we are meant to awaken from our sinful stupor through the light of Christ. The incarnate God-man, Jesus, eschatologically overturns the darkness of sin and injustice and brings the fruit of that work into time. The already-not-yet aspect of the eschaton brings grace into the world in order to overturn and heal the harm caused by temporal injustices; nonetheless, we should not expect the fullness of justice except in the transcendent eschaton itself (to which all time and space is being drawn). Christians are called to be incorporated into the mystical body of Christ and participate in his eschatological struggle against injustice. The light of Christ should help us see the structures of sin as they have developed in the world so that we can then take the grace we have been given and confront them. Thus, by our incorporation into Christ, Christians should represent what it means to be “woke,” which is to fight against systematic (and systemic) injustices in the world. Christians should confront the systems of sin, and the powers that be which created them, bringing to them the justice established by Christ. Likewise, Christians should work with all those of good will, no matter their religious faith (or lack of it), understanding that Jesus acknowledged that “whoever is not against us is for us.” In this way, they will by following the admonitions of St Paul, who said in his letter to the Ephesians:

Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5;14-16 RSV).

Having been awakened by Christ, having been enlightened by him, we are to use what we have been given for the good of all. We must not be lulled back into slumber. We must put on Christ and walk in the world resisting the injustices found within it. To do this properly, we must embrace wisdom, and not just any wisdom, that is, not mere human wisdom, but the wisdom of God. If we do so, we will learn that the true way of justice is not found in the path of vengeance and retribution, but rather, with restorative justice. Paying back evil for evil only promotes further injustice, while healing the harm caused by sin, the harm caused by injustice, will dismantle the structures of sin and allow the grace of Christ to bring the world to its proper and final end. We are to embrace wisdom, the wisdom of God, given to us by the Word (Logos) and the Spirit, so that we will not be rash and imitate the evil which we fight against. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17 RSV).

The Wisdom of God shows us the true path. We must not support injustices in the world. We cannot embrace and accept avarice or any system founded upon it having power over society. We must be awakened to the evil of greed. We must discern how greed would have us act and find ways to counter its suggestions. That way, we will be able to begin dismantling the structure of sin it has placed over the world. Greed promotes an unnatural division of resources, piling up riches so that only a few can have them, circumventing the universal destination of goods. The system which greed puts in place absolutizes the way the goods have been divided, telling us if a few people attain more than they ever can need or use at the expense of others, it would be wrong for us to deny them what they have accumulated and those who do not have them are not worthy of our help. In truth, such a division of goods is unjust, and it must be rejected. We must not idolize material wealth or those who possess it. We must not assume those who possess more than what they need at the expense of others have really earned what they have. They have not. No one can justly earn what is unjustly taken from others. This is why, as Jesus indicates, those who possess wealth in this fashion will find what they have gained is ephemeral. No matter how much material wealth one accumulates, they are not the ones who really possesses it, God is; they are at best its stewards, and if they have not properly shared what they have received they will find it will be taken away from them, either at some point in their life, or at death. Their deeds, however, will follow them, so that those who have collected material wealth at the expense of others will find that they have impoverished themselves spiritually, and that spiritual impoverishment will follow them into the eschaton:

 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, `What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, `Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Lk. 12:12-21 RSV).

The rich man in that parable built structures to hold his wealth at the expense of others, and in doing so, impeded the universal destination of goods; he stored food for himself alone (unlike, say, Joseph in Egypt, who collected and stored grain so that it could be shared with others in a time of famine). The power of sin and the injustices which it created put him spiritually to sleep. It was, as it were, an opiate, giving him pleasure while making him unable to see or care about the suffering of others. Jesus, in relating this parable, was telling us that there will always be an accounting for what we do with our lives. Injustice, systematic injustice, can only last so long before it is confronted and overturned. Those who have embraced it will find they will have to pay back and make restitution for the injustices they have permitted or committed themselves. If they have not stored up treasures in heaven through acts of charity and love, they will be spiritually impoverished, and it will be difficult for them to pay back the last penny of the debt they have incurred for their injustices. However, those who have been enlightened by Christ, those awakened by the wisdom he has shared to the world, and act upon it, will that the spiritual wealth they helped accrued will be more than enough to help pay back that debt. Indeed, they will learn, contrary to the injustices of avarice and the zero-sum game it suggests for the goods of the earth, spiritual wealth exponentially increases the more it is shared, so that the more they give, especially to those in need, the more they will receive in kind, and in doing so, they will find themselves going from glory to glory, as at each advance they follow the example of Christ and give what they have received to those in need.

 

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N.B.:  While I read comments to moderate them, I rarely respond to them. If I don’t respond to your comment directly, don’t assume I am unthankful for it. I appreciate it. But I want readers to feel free to ask questions, and hopefully, dialogue with each other. I have shared what I wanted to say, though some responses will get a brief reply by me, or, if I find it interesting and something I can engage fully, as the foundation for another post. I have had many posts inspired or improved upon thanks to my readers.

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