Give us this day our Daily Cross.

Lenten Meditations on Justice and Peace

by Robert Waldrop

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Readings: Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm 54, Luke 9:22-25

Nobody is beating around the bush today. Moses is telling people to choose life, not death, and Jesus says everybody that wants to follow him must take up his cross every day!

The Cross is so holy for us, the impact of these words is easily missed. We haven't actually seen somebody crucified in Real Life. But in Roman Palestine, it was a common occurrence. Given its gruesomeness, to lie down calmly and voluntarily on a cross and then let somebody hammer nails into your hands and feet would have been an utterly horifying thought to the Jews and the Gentiles of Roman Palestine.

We aren't so different. Sure, we'll take up the Cross, as long as it is pretty, and perhaps made of gold or silver to wear around our neck. But big, grubby, wooden crosses, that are heavy to bear and fraught with trouble? We will go to great pains to avoiding seeing such. We put on our special invisible spectacles that allow us to evade sights we really don't want to see. We define away to nothingness unpleasant truths, unwanted sights, unwelcome sounds. They really aren't in trouble, we say, they're just lazy no good bums. They should all get jobs.

Meanwhile back at the Jordan River, Moses lays it right on the line for the nation. Life and prosperity or death and doom. Those are your choices. There is no column "C". There is no "all of the above are acceptable". If you obey God's commandments, fine. If not, how many different ways can you spell trouble? We don't have a problem understanding this when (e.g.) it comes to sexual issues. But justice and peace? Quick, thump that Bible and rattle that Catechism and find us an "out" to affirm our dissent from the Church's teaching. And today, all across the world, we are paying the price for ignoring God's principles of justice and peace.

It is not too late to turn things around. We can choose life and reject death. We can follow Jesus, even if that means doing something as unpopular as taking up a really big and particularly grubby Cross, that perhaps is disguised (e.g.) as a group of single mothers on welfare.

These aren't decisions that we can make "once and for all" and then we don't have to worry about them anymore. Jesus said, "take up his cross daily". It's a call to becoming more intentional about life, the universe, and everything. As if, your life has purpose and meaning, because it does, derived from the purpose and meaning of our very existence as human persons, children of the most high God.

The work of justice and peace very often is a heavy cross to bear, both for those who bring the Word and for the communities who are called to receive the Word. But Moses and Jesus, both of whom love us dearly, tell us the plain unvarnished, non-rationalized truth. There are no other alternatives! Life or death? Blessing or cursing? Survival or annihilation?

And what's the point to anything if we gain the whole world, but lose our souls?

Prayer intentions:

For all those called to the ministry of teaching in the Church, that they will boldly proclaim the Word of the Lord that calls us to justice and peace.

For the stockholders and management of corporations engaged in exploitation of workers in poor countries, that they will learn to pay a just and living wage to their employees, we pray to the Lord.

For run-away and throw-away children, that they will be protected from harm and find safe harbor and healing, we pray to the Lord.

Praxis today:

+ Read the newspaper, or watch the television news, intentionally. Look for stories behind stories, incidents with justice and peace implications, calls to service.

+ Pray for all of the people on your reconciliation list. Tell God in detail about the situation.

+ Make a list of all the poor people you know. Put this list in your Bible, with your Rosary, or other place where it won't get lost.

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