by Cathy Woodson
Chair, Pax Christi USA National Council
But if we walk in the light as God is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another. (1 Jn 1:7)
As we read today’s gospel, we can think of the many people who could be considered a burden or threat to others. We can name categories, but we also know that whole communities become targets of discrimination and economic injustices through structures created to support concentrations of extreme poverty, genocide, and the elimination of financial support to social programs in order to strengthen militarism and incentives for the concentration of extreme wealth. How can we make the case within our own families and wider communities that we all suffer when this continues? Do we continue to hold our leaders accountable for their decisions and actions or failures to act?
Social just work can be overwhelming because as we address one issue, others continue to loom in the wings. We must keep reminding ourselves that exercising forgiveness, practicing our faith, and showing love is the only way to sustain the work. We must hold onto our trust in God’s love for all so that we remain strengthened by that love. Nevertheless, we are also called to hold one another and ourselves accountable, and this means learning and acknowledging our roles in systems of oppression, our stereotypes, and our assumptions about people and cultures with whom we may not be familiar.
What are your connections to systems of oppression? How are these systems influencing your actions? What can you do to shed light on what you’re hearing from communities?
How can you use your faith to examine how you are responding in and to systems of oppression?
* This reflection is from Voices of Hope, Women of Wisdom: Pax Christi USA 40th Anniversary Reflections for Advent 2012.