Daily Reflection
July 12th, 2004
Cathy Weiss Pedersen
Campus Ministry
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“Make justice your aim; redress the wronged, hear the orphans’ plea, defend the widow.” Isaiah 1: 17

A popular bumper sticker states: “If you want peace, do justice.”  Some propose that our war in Iraq is to make peace.  Others would argue that it is because we are NOT doing justice, that there is no peace in Iraq or Israel or Ireland or Sudan or…perhaps in our own hearts. 

Is this what Jesus meant in today’s gospel: “I have not come to bring peace but the sword.”?
Jesus foretells that father will be against son, daughter against mother, in-laws against one another, etc.  Wasn’t Jesus coming to make God’s love real in our lives?  Why then, such a prediction of dissension and unrest? 

Isaiah reminds the Israelites that their sacrifices are not pleasing to God.  Rather, their call to God’s covenant must be honored; they must, “Make justice your aim; redress the wronged, hear the orphans’ plea, defend the widow.”

How are we, as followers of Christ, to live out our baptismal covenant to make God present in today’s world, to “…make justice our aim”?  There are all kinds of political voices telling us that their way is God’s call…that this or that political idea is what God demands of us. 

As Christians we struggle not only with the questions of our presence in Iraq, but also public policy regarding marriage, when life begins and ends, etc.  Is this the ‘sword’ of which Jesus speaks? 

In the midst of political arguments during this election year, how are we to discern God’s call to us in the 21st century?  According to the US Catholic Bishops’ Letter: Faithful Citizenship-A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility (2003), the bishops state:  “… we seek to form the consciences of our people. We do not wish to instruct persons on how they should vote by endorsing or opposing candidates. We hope that voters will examine the position of candidates on the full range of issues, as well as on their personal integrity, philosophy, and performance. We are convinced that a consistent ethic of life should be the moral framework from which to address issues in the political arena.
(Vatican Document: Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life, 2002) See: http://www.usccb.org/faithfulcitizenship/bishopStatement.html#3 

How are we to act in a way that recognizes God’s presence within and around us?  As humans, we make decisions that often times reflect our needs and limited vision.  We thus fall into struggles within our selves and with others…and forget to call upon God to guide us in our lives, our actions, our decisions. 

My prayer today is that we turn to the God spirit within and ask for guidance to live the call of the prophets and of Jesus’ good news…to love one another as ourselves.  And then, hopefully in the stillness of our hearts we will truly listen to what the Spirit has to say.

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