The Lord says this:
If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry,
and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness,
and your shadows become like noon.
The Lord will always guide you,
giving you relief in desert places.
He will give strength to your bones
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water
whose waters never run dry.
You will rebuild the ancient ruins,
build up on the old foundations.
You will be called ‘Breach-mender’,
‘Restorer of ruined houses.’
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
and doing business on the holy day,
if you call the Sabbath ‘Delightful’,
and the day sacred to the Lord ‘Honourable’,
if you honour it by abstaining from travel,
from doing business and from gossip,
then shall you find your happiness in the Lord
and I will lead you triumphant over the heights of the land.
I will feed you on the heritage of Jacob your father.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Jesus noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting by the customs house, and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything he got up and followed him.
In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house, and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘It is not those who are well who need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.’
You will be called ‘Breach-mender’
One of my favourite comic books is the Justice League of America. It is a team of superheroes from the DC universe that comes together to fight off injustice in a way that they, as individuals, cannot. And they’re almost always fighting. We might think that it is ironic that these superheroes are always fighting to bring about peace. How can conflict bring about peace?
In today’s first reading, we see God describing actions that a “breach-mender”, or a peacemaker, might make. A peacemaker, in Isaiah’s words, is not one who makes peace by reducing or avoiding conflict. Rather, it is one who brings about justice, and often that involves conflict.
The Catholic Church knows very well that the relationship between peace and justice is mutually reinforcing. Part of the Roman Curia is a body called the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which is dedicated to “action-oriented studies” for the international promotion of justice, peace, and human rights in the perspective of the Church. True peace cannot exist so long as injustice reigns.
In today’s gospel reading, we see Jesus dining with tax collectors and sinners – people who were outcasts in an unjust society. This is where Jesus continues to be found today in the form of Christian missionaries who work to bring about justice in an unjust world.
As we reflect on today’s readings, let us consider our own lives and the people with whom we interact. Where is there injustice in our world? How can we work towards justice for all peoples? How can we seek to bring about true peace in our world today? Start small. Start where you are, at home, at work, at church, at community, at neighbourhood.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Daniel Tay)
Prayer: We pray for Christian missionaries who risk their lives daily to bring about justice and peace in the world. May the blessing of God’s protection be upon them always.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for justice-bringers and breach-menders in our world today.