Love justice and walk humbly with the Lord
The CSJ Associates of the Toronto Sisters of St. Joseph held their annual Assembly Day at Morrow Park on March 14, 2009. The focus of the day was ‘Justice and Peace’ while the topic was ‘Love Justice and Walk humbly with the Lord.’ (Micah 6:8)
After Ursula Matthews of the Associate Leadership Group welcomed everyone and the Providence Group led the morning prayer, Brian Farrell introduced Father Emeka Obiezu, OSA. Father Emeka, who is from Nigeria, is presently assistant pastor at St. Brigid’s Parish, Toronto. Now working on his doctorate in political theology at Regis College, University of Toronto, he has served on the Commission of Justice and Peace in Nigeria and Canada while representing his Augustinian order at the United Nations. He is also an instructor and author.
Here are some highlights from Father’s lecture:
- Father Emeka said that we are brought together by a love of Christ. (Does that remind you of the CSJ motto: “The love of Christ has gathered us into one”?) What are we doing about this? How would God see it? In Matthew 6, Jesus calls for ‘alms, prayer and fasting.’ This lent, are we listening?
- A self-centred spirituality is concerned with ‘God and me.’ We do things to ensure we get to heaven. What we will be judged on, however, is how we relate to our brothers and sisters. What could we do to make their lives better?
- Father told a story: three people were washed up at the side of the river. One was dead, one was severely injured and the third was sick. People buried the one, and cared for the others. This happened daily for some time, resulting in the creation and crowding of hospitals and cemeteries. After much money was spent, someone eventually thought to question why this was happening in the first place. Why were all these sick and dying people coming down the river? This question was the beginning of social responsibility.
- If you want to be like Christ, you must be socially responsible as well. Jesus said to love your neighbour as yourself. People dying of hunger cannot be overlooked. It is not enough to feed the hungry: we must question why they are hungry, and challenge unjust policies that result in hunger and poverty. Our spirituality must include justice.
- We must ask Christ how we are to do this. We need a spirituality that includes justice, following the example of Christ and such people as Mother Teresa and Gandhi. When Mother Teresa asked one man if he wanted to be a Christian, he replied, “I do not know Christ, but if Christ is like you, I want to be a Christian.”
- Poverty is anything that makes us less than we can be. We are called to be alive today, to be readers of the signs of our time, to refuse to be complacent to injustice! We must do something with, not just for, the poor.
Mass at 11 a.m. was followed by lunch, then a continuation of Father’s talk and a time of group discussion. A number purchased Father Emeka’s book: Towards a Politics of Compassion – Socio-Political Dimensions of Christian Responses to Suffering. We left grateful, inspired and challenged to continue making our world a better place.
By Mary Duffy