As justice seekers, we are all too familiar with the darkness’s of our world. We work to expose these darkness’s—denouncing racism, the death penalty, and mistreatment of migrants, to name a few—because we believe that our actions will interrupt harm.
And gratefully, often they do.
Yet there is more to justice-seeking than just exposing or disrupting the grim indignities in our world (and in ourselves). Stopping injustice is not the same as seeking justice.
We need to make space for what lies beyond the darkness. Our advocacy must crack the armor of darkness so that God’s light can break forth.
Could we ingrain “so that” into our justice work, and let it steer us in the direction of God’s light?
We condemn the scourge of poverty so that children can be nourished and grow. We denounce abuses toward immigrants so that people may flourish and live dignified lives. We abolish the death penalty so that victims’ families and people who have caused harm can start to transform their suffering into healing and wholeness. We turn away from self-absorption so that God may increase in us.
We expose darkness so that Christ’s light of life may be revealed. Restorative justice and its practices create space for Christ’s light and for new life to break in. Modeling Jesus’ reconciling way, restorative processes bring together people who have been impacted by harm in order to collectively determine the steps to make things as right as possible—to step toward Christ’s light.
And what might these steps look like?
It looks like welcoming people from the margins, acknowledging harms, making space for truth-telling, addressing wounds, advancing racial equity, promoting accountability, and enabling transformation—in ourselves, with others, and for authentic community.
Surely, the work of justice desperately needs our hands, feet, and voices. Equally, the “so that” part of the equation requires our imagination and our courage.
- This Lent, how are you using your God-given gifts to expose darkness and injustice?
- How do you model the “so that” part?
- Where do you find nourishment for your courage and imagination?
Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy serves as the executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, the national Catholic organization dedicated to ending the death penalty and promoting restorative justice. Krisanne is co-author of Advocating for Justice: An Evangelical Vision for Transforming Systems and Structures, published by Baker Academic. She holds a masters in theology degree from Boston College (formerly Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts).