I recently had dinner with a longtime friend and Columban who has been a beacon in the Columban Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Ministry. As we were catching up on the latest news, the challenges and struggles that face our world, the words love and fear bubbled to the surface. I asked him what the opposite of love is to which he responded: injustice. This brought to mind the 1971 Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World in which the Church said, “Justice attains its inner fullness only in love.”
This month we begin our journey with Jesus to the Cross which is essentially a journey of love. For the forty days of Lent, we are reminded of God’s radical and all-encompassing love that is revealed in the body of Christ. Two thousand years ago, Jesus’ message of love, justice, and peace, was scandalous for the people of His time. His challenge to law and order threatened the security of the powerful, wealthy, and educated elite. His invitation to the weak, vulnerable, and marginalized upset the established social structures. And so He was tortured and nailed to a Cross.
We know that is not the end of the story, and Mary Magdalene is the fi rst to tell us, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18) What a revelation! Imagine her emotion in seeing the Beloved after standing Justice Shall Look Down from Heaven By Amy Woolam Echeverr ia at the foot of the Cross just a few days before. Moved from fear to love, from grief to joy, she was impelled into the world having had a personal encounter with Christ, offering the perfect model of a missionary life, proclaiming to all people the Good News through word and action.
The Columban Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) is one way we echo Mary’s song, “I have seen the Lord!” in our world today. Dedicated to rolling back the tomb’s stone, we shed light on the root causes of human suffering and the exploitation of Creation so that the last will be first and all will have their place at the Table. Guided by our mission experience in some of the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities, we seek to break down systemic barriers that keep all of Creation from knowing the fullness of life. (John 10:10)
This year we celebrate the Year of Faith. This is a special invitation to not only deepen our relationship with God through prayer but also to renew our commitment to being God’s witness in a world where Love and faithfulness, justice and peace, meet together. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven. (Psalm 85:10-11)