Justice Rising

Justice Rising

John Heagle, Orbis, $33.95

Father John Heagle traces recent changes in our understanding of the message of Jesus. In referring to divine justice depicted in the book of Isaiah as “a river of righteousness”, he says we need “to change our ways of thinking”. There is a rising tide of belief that we must apply an ethic of justice to our personal lives, in our relationships and among our communities. The Second Vatican Council’s call for “authentic justice” and the 1971 Synod of Bishops document “Justice in the World” continue to be “the Church’s best kept secret”.

He calls on the church to name the sources of oppression in our institutions, to unmask the injustice in our religious structures and to “engage the violence in our political systems”. Christian opinion has been polarised into either believing Jesus was sent to suffer and die to appease a God who was angry at sinful humanity or to “embrace the path of suffering as a way of being in solidarity with all who are marginalised by human injustice”. As Heagle points out, it is a grave mistake to just portray Jesus as “one more political revolutionary” and just as fatal to “reduce him to a personal saviour apart from the radical challenge that his life and teaching offer to structures of injustice”.

He quotes the late Archbishop Camara of Brazil: “I feed the poor, I’m called a saint. I ask why the poor have no food, I’m called a communist.” Our call today is “not to wait, but to wake up”.

John Atkinson

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