Today’s readings illuminate intimate connections between salvation and social justice that co-members of the Mystical Body of Christ are called to co-sense and co-create here and now.
Praising our Lord who “sets captives free,” the responsorial psalm reminds us that Jesus begins his public ministry by announcing liberation (LK 4:18). We are called to share in that ministry of intimate belonging and overflowing love.
Yet, the readings also focus a harsh spotlight on how the community of faith loses its way so much that we become the system of domination and injustice ourselves.
“Woe to the complacent in Zion” warns the prophet Amos (AM 6:1) as the people recline on “beds of ivory,” and fill themselves with the best food while “improvising to the music of the harp,” drinking wine, and massaging themselves with the “best oils.” The prophet’s timeless description of the lives of the affluent looks and sounds eerily familiar.
Amos is not only concerned with a community that has become too secure in its own riches; he is more deeply concerned that “they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph,” (AM 6:6) that is, they have forgotten their communal, covenantal purpose. If we fail to live God’s love and justice, we “shall be the first to go into exile!” Not an inappropriate reversal of fortune for a nation that persecutes migrants in our midst.
At the heart of Luke’s Gospel is the call to feel and enact God’s compassion (Luke 6:36). Luke 16:19-31 underscores the demand for people of faith to bodily sense people like “Lazurus, covered with sores,” eating scraps from the floor. Only the dog conveys God’s tenderness!
Today’s Gospel calls us together, as the Mystical Body of Christ, to co-sense the plight of migrant families and children, the cry of First Peoples for climate justice, the loss of life to gun violence, and the call for reparations from #BlackLivesMatter movement. We hear the prophets. We know our Lord has risen! Rise up! Set God’s people free!
Alex Mikulich is a Catholic social ethicist and racial equity consultant. He is co-author of The Scandal of White Complicity in U.S. Hyper-Incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of White Resistance (Palgrave 2013 and 2015). He co-edited and contributed to Interrupting White Privilege: Catholic Theologians Break the Silence (Orbis 2007) which won the Theological Book of the Year from the College Theology Society.