Praying to overcome obstacles to justice

God of mercy, help us to see what prevents us from looking for justice, giving hospitality and being humble in all our relationships. Grant that through our personal conversion, we may be real disciples of Jesus, bringing others to the Good News.

My ministry with the migrant community always make me kneel. Thinking about that reality, I wrote the above prayer after reflecting on the Gospels of these Sundays and what is happening in our daily lives.

While I write this reflection, the U.S. federal government is in its second day of shut down. About 800,000 federal employees are furloughed (they are away from work, without pay), the lights have been turned off in many government offices, the national parks are closed and services to veterans have been impacted. Is it just that there is so much suffering while the parties are in disagreement instead of working together to solve the problem of funding the government?

I don’t think so … while there are important issues in which they should be working.

In his homily yesterday, Oct. 1, the feast of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, Pope Francis said it will do us good to reflect on her spirit of humility, of tenderness, of mercy. It seems to me this is an appropriate message for the members of Congress!

Two of St. Luke’s Gospels on these Sundays, make me consider what is happening in our country in light of the Word of God: the parable of the widow looking for justice from a judge, and the encounter of Jesus and Zacchaeus. They speak to me of justice and hospitality, of keeping our neighbors company in their reality.

The judge, without fear of God or respect for others, finally does justice to the widow so that she does not keep bothering him. Jesus tells us that God "will make justice without delay." Shouldn’t we do the same? I think about the issue of immigration reform. How many years it has taken to accomplish it! Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York wrote a month ago in The Daily News: "When Congress starts its session once again, we have once in a generation the opportunity to fix our immigration system. We cannot let pass this opportunity. The migratory reform could help families, which would help the economy, and improve our security. But what is more important, we have to do what Pope Francis reminded us recently, that ‘the measure of the greatness of a society is on the way it treats the most needy’ (September 6, 2013). I have seen families destroyed because of our immigration policies. Justice and hospitality call us to support the migrant community. It is our duty according to Jesus Christ’s Good News. It is our duty according to our baptism."

May we be disciples with strong hearts, fighting for justice through our prayers and actions!

Gardner is migrant minister for northwest Monroe County and Livingston County.

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