Listen for the voice of justice

    March 15, 2024

    Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us, he sets himself against our doings.

    Today’s reading from the book of Wisdom begins with a reminder of the old saw, “no good deed goes unpunished.” While the “just one” is out there preaching the kingdom of God (arguably a very good thing), the writer notes that a group of people have become hypercritical and even enemies of this righteous person. Maybe this group gets ahead by climbing on other people. Maybe they are just trying to preserve the advantages they have in life. Perhaps one is a tax collector and there’s always a “little something” extra for their own personal purse in each collection. Perhaps one has high social status and feels compelled to maintain it at all costs — even if the cost is borne by someone who can ill afford it, such as a widow or an orphan.

    The person referred to as “the just one” has likely been calling out this less-than-godly behavior. By holding up a mirror, he/she is forcing these wayward souls to take a realistic look at their choices and see clearly that they are not being who they were called to be.

    No one likes that. No one likes having faults exposed or bad habits called out or a lack of empathy and compassion brought into the light of day. It’s especially obnoxious if the price of changing means giving up creature comforts or positions of power or status and recognition.

    Perhaps this is the work of these waning days of Lent. Maybe I’ve gotten a little complacent (I really don’t miss chocolate or soda after a few days of not having it, but I sure do feel self-righteous about my “sacrifice”). Maybe I’ve set aside all the good intentions of change that I wholeheartedly embraced on Ash Wednesday. Today is a good day to hear the voice of a “just one” and the renewed call to love mercy, act justly and walk humbly. It’s a good day to turn away from the whispers — either internal or external — that point out what I would really have to “give up” if I were more fully living out my call to compassion and community.

    I’m going to take an extra long look in the mirror today and listen for the voice of justice. Obnoxious though it may seem, it’s the music I need to hear.

    Susan Walker is Executive Director of Outreach and Engagement for Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph. She’s also Daughter, Mom, Spouse, Nana and Aunt Sue for some very precious souls.