I was never into social justice until recently. I went to a Jesuit college, and at the time, I heard the message and it always rubbed me the wrong way. It made me uncomfortable. I grew up conservative. I grew up without any real encounters with those different from me.
That is, until I became a Franciscan, read and prayed the Gospels, started listening to the other side, and actually encountered the poor, the broken, the imprisoned, the refugee, the minorities, the immigrant, the sick, the disabled, the homeless, and so many more.
That changed me. I came to see Jesus in every one of those people. It’s like God gave me a crash course in Gospel literacy.
Slowly, I started to see the necessity of justice.
There’s something about hearing the Gospel over and over again and seeing what it’s really all about. There’s something about developing more of a “Christ” mindset towards the issues we face. There’s something about encountering these different types of people. There’s something that it does to you.
It puts skin on the words. It enlightens you with real stories. It shows you the reality of our culture and systems that are laden with injustice. It gets you uncomfortable. It stirs in you. It moves you to want something to change once you recognize that local charity, small acts of service and kindness only move the needle so far.
I started to challenge myself to think: What would Jesus want? What would Jesus ask of me? The answers became very clear.
But make no mistake. In spite of this, I am pro-life. I am anti-abortion. I am pro-family values and religious freedom. I still see the other side. And because of that, I’m always in a political quandry.
In this day and age of split Catholicism, the pro-life and the pro-justice sides, I hope both sides come to see the Gospel truth of both because that’s where wholeness, true peace, and God’s will for the world lies.