When it comes to the virtues justice can be somewhat of a cliché. You see it nearly everywhere. It is famously quoted in Superman as “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” If someone takes someone breaks into your home and something is stolen, you expect the local police to seek justice for you. On a more serious tone when we see bad situations in life such as a murder you will hear the victim’s family lobbying for justice. What does our faith have to say about justice however? It goes a little deeper than what you may think.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “Justice consists in the firm and constant will to give God and neighbor their due” (Catechism, no. 1836). Additionally, it states, “Justice towards men disposes one to respect the rights of each, and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and the common good. (Catechism, no. 1807).
This definition is commonly taken up in the pursuit of equality of the common man. This manifests itself in the helping of the poor. Many saints have embarked on this mission. Mother Teresa gets usually gets the spotlight on this subject (and rightly so) but let’s take a brief look at another modern day person whose initial steps towards sainthood have begun.
Dorothy Day is highly regarded as a staunch supporter of the rights of the poor. She took the Catholic churches teaching on social justice and enacted something that became a model for future programs to aid the poor. It didn’t however happen overnight nor did Dorothy always know that her calling was to help the poor. In fact, she struggled with how to apply her Catholic beliefs for good.
This all changed in 1932 while she was covering the Hunger March in Washington, D.C. for some Catholic magazines. She prayed at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception that some way would open up for her to serve the poor and the unemployed. In the days ahead Dorothy with the help of Peter Maurin, founded the Catholic Worker newspaper. Their work brought about a movement of houses of hospitality and farming communes that has been replicated throughout the United States and other countries.
This is justice. To reach down and help your brethren who have fallen upon hard times. That is the action of a loving individual who has experienced the mercy of God and allows it to flow through them to the less fortunate. This is our call, this is our duty, and this is our mission. We are here on this earth for but a short time. We ae called by Jesus himself to help the poor, the least of my brethren. There’s no better time than now to start.
We likely will not go out and take the same path Dorothy Day did but there are plenty of other ways we can help. Give time, money or donations of food to a local pantry. Find a trustworthy charity that helps the poor. Two examples would be Food for the Poor or CFCA. Of course taking time to pray for the less fortunate is also a noble effort. Take time this week to pray on this topic. Listen and see where God leads you.