The state across the river -- Iowa, whose Loess Hills I can see
from my front porch -- doesn't often make the front page of the New York Times.
But it's on the front page regularly now, because of the upcoming Presidential
caucuses here in the United States. I was reminded of these by today's
readings, which directly mention justice six times, and indirectly more than
Our 2004 political process will involve justice in innumerable ways.
Whatever their party affiliations, honest citizens will ask for campaigns
that address means to just wages, to good education, to adequate and compassionate
health care for all. Issues of transportation and trade, business ethics,
and moral accountability in media and entertainment must be addressed.
Most important of all -- and I say this knowing that I may sound like a finalist
in a Miss America pageant -- is world peace.
Speaking of pageants, a few days ago I attended a Christmas festival in
the cavernous hall of our old Union Station, now a museum. The theme
was ethnic diversity and unity. Colorful costumes, dances, singing,
wonderful foods and fun for all combined to celebrate our city's heritage.
We saw the flags of the Irish, Mexicans, Swedes, Norwegians, Serbs and Croatians,
the Scots, the Czechs, Polish, Japanese and Greeks. Here in our city
we were all at peace. If only, I thought while winding my way across
the crowded museum floor, the world itself could know such peace and justice.
Today's Gospel telling us of Joseph's concern about Mary's being with child
deals with his sense of peace and justice. At first, merely from his
own point of view, it seemed just that he should "divorce her quietly."
But of course he did not, because an outside voice -- an angel -- told him
to stay with her.
We too can use an outside voice when we consider the long election year
ahead. We want the outcome to be just, and the government that follows
the election to be just. The voice we need may not be angelic, like
the voice Joseph heard. But our Scriptures, our Church, and the Holy
Spirit promise us that justice shall flourish, and the fullness of peace
for ever. As we pass from Christmas into the New Year, may we resolve
to make that promise come true.