Sunday, September 23, 2007

What will you do for social justice? (Sunday homily)

You might have been wondering
what the Prophet Amos was describing.

When he says, “diminish the ephah, add to the shekel,”
he’s talking about inflation.

When he says, “we will buy the lowly for silver,
and the poor for a pair of sandals”—
he could be describing predatory lending.

When he refers to being eager for “the new moon”
to be over, he’s talking about how work and business
encroach on the Sabbath.

In our time, there is no Sabbath anymore—
no day of rest. Business seven days a week.

Many of our parishioners
cannot come to Mass for Sunday due to work.
Their employers could give them schedules
that allow for worship of God—but they don’t.

We hear that first reading, and we may wonder:
OK, what can I do—how can lift up the poor?

This is where our Faith calls us
beyond charity to social justice.
Charity means we give direct help to those in need:
food, clothing, or help with the electric bill.
Social Justice means we do our part
to change the structure of society.

We might want to express thanks to businesses
that give their employees a break on Sunday;
even better, maybe we can minimize
the business we do on Sundays?
After all, if we go shopping on Sundays,
someone has to work, to take care of us.

St. Paul calls us to pray for kings and people in authority.

But in our time, we can go further:
we can make our views known to people in authority.

To lift up the poor—our community needs jobs!

On Sundays, we pray for that to happen;
but as good stewards, each of us has the right—
and I would argue, the duty—
to tell our Governor, and our legislators,
we need them to act.

We have an election coming up this fall in Piqua.
Our city commission has a role to play.

So, again, we pray for those seeking office—
but each of us have a duty to tell them how urgent it is
that they make jobs and development happen.
For another couple of weeks,
we can still register to vote:
one day, God will ask us how well we used that privilege.

To our younger parishioners: you can’t vote yet,
but you can still get involved; you can speak out.

In today’s bulletin you’ll find names and addresses
of our governor and state legislators,
and how to register to vote.

In the Gospel, the Lord talked about stewardship.
As citizens, all of us are stewards together
of our community.

We often talk about what those people
in Washington, or Columbus, do—
but now, the question is, what will the people in Piqua do?


southerncanuck said...

What a great sermon Father. In our Church, the diocese asked for money in their annual appeal. A worthy goal perhaps, but maybe not the best Sunday to ask for it. Thank you for sharing your sermon with us.

Kasia said...

Very nice homily.

Our pastor's was good too. I would've liked to have seen him draw a clearer distinction between charity and social justice, but it was good. He did a play off of Nike's "Just Do It" and made the theme of the homily "let's Do It Just"...

Rich Leonardi said...

Subsidiarity. Authentic justice reflects this principle.

Anonymous said...

Unrelated, but I have nominated you for a Mathetes award:

Anonymous said...

Love the part where you mention shopping on Sunday. There is actually no excuse to do this, and it encourages the practice of stores being open on Sundays and religious holidays as well.

Not only do open stores prevent employees from attending church or being with their families, but also damage the family life, religious life, and opportunities for prayer and reflection, for the folks who can't resist yet another shopping expedition.

I don't know why people like to shop anyway, can anybody out there explain it? I don't mean the kind of shopping where you go to a store to get something actually needed, but the kind that serves as some kind of mindless entertainment. How can that be interesting or fun?

Fuddyduddy nonshopper Annie

Emily said...

That was a wonderful homily, Fr. It's so rare to hear a homily on social justice that doesn't end up going to one end of the political scale or another, but just tells us what the Church teaches and gives common sense ways to live it. Thank you.

the Joneses said...

I tend to agree about the shopping on Sunday, but what about going out to eat? Our family often enjoys eating dinner after church at a restaurant, so that my wife doesn't have to cook.

Father Martin Fox said...


You'll note I said, "minimize."

Some businesses need to stay open on weekends, since people travel and may need to eat out; drugstores and such need to be open for various urgent needs.

Plus, I chose to stress this from the perspective of the right of working people to have a day off. If we go too far, we're back to "blue laws" which had the effect of preventing people from working. A lot of folks are happy to work on weekends and holidays, especially if their hours can be flexible.

Finally, this would apply just as much -- if not more -- to non-business activities, such as school sports, if they crowd out worship and prayer. If memory serves, our late holy father, Pope John Paul II, somewhere talked about the need to devote time on Sunday to caring for others--visiting the sick, or helping the poor; but I cannot recall just where.

Anna said...

Dear Annie,

While I don't like to shop for things like clothes etc. I do tend to enjoy the hunt for unusual, pretty things. (I've explained it to men, it's the female hunting. They tend to understand.)

But, I try to minimize any shopping that I do on Sundays, because I try to honor the Sabbath.

Anonymous said...

its Wednesday again. :)