Justice, with Humility, Gentleness, and Civility

[Editor’s Note:  Washington’s Red Mass, which journalists usually report from a political perspective because that’s easier, took place earlier today.  I haven’t seen any reports on it yet, but I’m willing to bet that for the vast majority of people trying to do human justice, Fr. Greg Kalscheur’s homily at Detroit’s Red Mass last weekend will provide more food for thought.  I post it here with Greg’s permission. — MAG]

Red Mass Homily
Gregory A. Kalscheur, S.J.
*

Each fall I begin my Civil Procedure course by encouraging my first-year students to keep a couple of questions alive in their hearts as they engage in their study of Civil Procedure.  I encourage them to imagine what sort of people they might become as they use the different procedural tools that we are studying, and I urge them to imagine how their use of those legal tools might shape the world in which we are living.  My hope really is to get all of us to remember one fundamental question; a question that I think is more important than any of the cases we read, or any of the doctrine we learn, or any of the particular legal issues any of us study in law school: who am I becoming as a person as I enter more deeply into the study of the law?[1]

We are all here today to ask the Holy Spirit to set our hearts on fire with a passion for the justice of God’s reign.  The readings we’ve just heard proclaimed[2] remind us to keep our hearts open to one crucial question: Who are we becoming as people as we live out our vocations as lawyers and judges and public servants?  As we live our lives in the law, are we being faithful to our more fundamental vocation to live out our identity as God’s beloved children, called to give flesh to God’s love in our world? Read the rest of this entry »

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Net-Mending in the Poetry Corner

We haven’t been to the Poetry Corner in a while, and today the Catholic lectionary gives us a nudge in that direction.  Ever since Jim Walsh told me about this poem, it has been impossible for me to hear today’s gospel reading (Mark 1:14-20) without thinking of it. Read the rest of this entry »

The Devil May Be Winning

This New York Times commentary on Pope Benedict’s visit troubles me in so many ways I’m having a hard time counting them. There’s one particular diabolical strategy in Lewis’ Screwtape Letters that I always found particularly compelling. Screwtape reminds Wormwood that one of the tools in the Tempter’s box is to warn the people of every age of a particular vice that is presently threatening them, when in fact it is the vice polar opposite to the one being shouted from the rooftops which threatens to overwhelm them. Read the rest of this entry »

Gospel Reflection for November 4

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel (Lk 19:1-10)

At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.

When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.”

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

Reflection Read the rest of this entry »

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Gospel Reflection for October 21

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel (Lk 18:1-8)

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'”

The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Reflection

In Jesus’ time, we can only imagine how hard it was to be a widow. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gospel Reflection for October 7

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’
 Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'”

Reflection

À propos of the “unworthy servant” image in this week’s gospel reading, a friend reminded me of the following passage from Meeting Jesus, by Fr. William P. Sampson, S.J.: Read the rest of this entry »

Gospel Reflection for September 9

Gospel (Lk 14:25-33)

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

Reflection Read the rest of this entry »