Lee: Charity and justice should be engaged within everyone

Seminarian Jehoon Lee
August 18, 2010

When I read the daily gospel, I try to see in Jesus the Person who showed us what perfect justice is. He was always concerned about the poor and the marginalized. In his teaching, he tried consistently to open our eyes and hearts to the injustice and inequality in our world. He often associated with tax collectors, and when one tax collector repented and shared his own possessions, Jesus told him that he was forgiven. That tax collector, in order to show the sincerity of his repentance, practiced ‘economic justice’ by sharing his possessions with the poor (Luke 19:1-9). Injustice, greed, and ignorance cause us to be blind to the hidden realities of our society where so many people suffer silently.

“Charity will never be true charity unless it takes justice into account … Let no one attempt with small gifts of charity to exempt himself from the great duties imposed by justice.” (US Bishops, Economic Justice for All)

To me, this means that while charity is a noble thing to be exercised with diligence, it can never become a substitute for our duty to work for justice. Sometimes, I am feeling angry and upset against the power and the unjust economic system. The powerful and the rich agents and the giant companies become more powerful and wealthier, while on the contrary, the residents who are living in that area become much more miserable.

Although at present human society enjoys a certain degree of development, the poverty resulting from unjust and unequal social systems needs always to be before our eyes.

Moreover, our present day world is a powerful stimulus for me as a Christian to work for economic justice, and helps me realize that in doing so I am assisting God in lifting up the poor and exploited.