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Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
March 21, 2010

Charity or Social Justice
                           
Last week there was a headline on the Comcast home page that reported on Glen Beck, the rich ultra conservative.  His message to the American public who espouse any religious denomination was, “if you have a pastor or a church that preaches or supports Social Justice, run away from that place as fast as you can.”  According to Beck the term Social Justice is a code word for Nazism or Communism.  When confronted by several Christian denominations on this statement Beck tried to explain that he had no problem with Charity per se, however he does not believe in Social Justice.

It would be easy enough to dismiss Beck’s statements as ignorant or typical of someone who simply wants his name in the paper regardless of the message.  I was about to do just that but, after thinking it through, I realized that there are many Catholics who, although not quite as ridiculous as Beck, think in a very similar vein.  The problem is precisely what Beck stated.  Many people agree with Charity but not with Social Justice.  Most Catholics would not admit to this because they use the two expressions synonymously.  To most people, both expressions simply mean giving a helping hand to people less fortunate.  This is not accurate however.

The Lenten season is traditionally a time for all Christians to do alms giving.  Another name for this is doing Charity.  I know very few, if anyone, who disagrees with this practice.  Charity is simply giving of money or goods or our time to help someone else in need.  This is indeed a very good practice.  In many instances this is all people need.  Due to any number of conditions in their lives, people find themselves in need of a little extra help.  With this help they find themselves on the road to recovery and stability. 

    Social Justice begins with charity but goes the extra mile.  Scripture teaches us that we must not look the other way when we see situations that are unjust.  In other words, when the cards are stacked against people we are obliged to help them.  We are not referring to multi-nationals or banks going bust because of greed.  We are speaking of people who go through life on the short end of the stick.  Again, we are not referring to people who are lazy or go through life taking advantage of the system.  All too often even “good Christians” seek to ease their conscience by telling themselves that they work hard and deserve every penny they have while all the others need do the same.  Therefore, let the others do the same and they will reap the benefits.  Little consideration is given to the fact that many do work hard with little or no reward.  Why is that?

    The issue of Social Justice is a sticky one for many people.  It is not an issue that was dreamt up by bleeding heart liberals.  It is an issue presented to us in Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments.  The Gospels are replete with the theme of Justice.  Why do so many people have difficulty seeing this?  This Lent, can we go the extra mile and attempt to admit there is a difference between charity and Justice with our heart as well as with our mind?  
                            Lorette P. Nault