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And leaving everything behind. . .

Lenten meditations on justice and peace

by Robert Waldrop

Saturday, February 28

Readings: Isaiah 58:9-14, Psalm 86, Luke 5:27-32

Tax collectors in Roman Palestine were not popular with most people. So here comes Jesus, and what does he do? He calls a tax collector as an apostle! And then, he goes to dinner with the man and his friends. Not a particularly smart way to win friends and influence people. Look who Jesus is visiting with, they said. Doesn't he know those kind of people are scum? What does Jesus do in response to such gossip? He continues to go directly to those most in need, to the ones who were marginalized and rejected, pushed or chased to the very edge.

Isaiah's words call forth the ministries of all today and throughout history who would live, confess, and witness to justice and peace. Remove the oppression! Stop the false accusations! No more malicious speeches! (Is Congress listening?) Give bread to the hungry! Satisfy the afflicted! It's not difficult, obscure, nor is it hard to understand. The words are rather plain and obvious. And closing our eyes doesn't make them go away.

From this journey-ministry of solidarity and service, our strength will be renewed, we will be like a spring whose water never fails. We will not be forsaken or lost or forgotten. There is Someone who remembers His covenant of old.

So when Jesus called, the Gospel of Luke says that "leaving everything behind, he (Levi) got up and followed him." Are we able to answer the calls of Jesus and Isaiah today? Can we leave behind our lives of sin and wickedness and embrace journeys of peace and justice? Where could we possibly get the strength for such commitment? From the spring that flows and never fails, from the one who rebuilds the ruined homesteads and restores the people. As we encounter and serve, when we call, the Lord will surely answer.

Prayer Intentions:

+ For the Palestinian people, who are suffering greatly from 50 years of war, that justice and peace will come to them, we pray to the Lord.

+ For all those who serve the poor, that they will be strengthened and confirmed in their ministries of justice and peace.

+ For continued progress towards justice and peace in the Persian Gulf.

Praxis Today:

+ Make a list of ten major problems faced by your community. Think about how the way you live your life contributes to or detracts from resolving these challenges. What changes can you make in your life to increase the positive contribution you make and decrease the negative?

+ Pray for everybody on your list of poor people.

+ Pray for everybody on your reconciliation list.

+ Call somebody and invite them to go to mass with you.

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