We read or watch the news, and we feel overwhelmed and helpless. What can we do in the face of senseless violence, or oppression in communities that we are not a part of? In the face of such struggle, our actions could not possibly make a difference. In seeking justice, we are frustrated at the feeling of powerlessness.
But, here’s the thing: we are not powerless. The dark truth is choosing to believe we are powerless gives us the freedom to do what we want, rather than what God would have us do. There is a difference between being powerless, and not seeing immediate results from our actions.
At the end of his earthly life, Jesus Christ appeared to be powerless as he fought for justice, leaving this world crucified on a cross. Jesus set aside his power to be in solidarity with those harmed by sin in this world, and was arrested, tortured and killed. And what was the immediate result? Was the emperor overthrown? Did Pilate lose his job? Nothing appeared to change, but we know everything did.
It might not appear to make much of a difference, but we always have the power to love our neighbor, which Jesus defines in the parable of the Good Samaritan as actively engaging ourselves in the life of someone who is hurting – showing mercy. The battle for justice is long, but it can begin for you with acts of mercy. Who is hurting in your world? You have the power, and Christ calls you, to cross the street and enter into their hurt with them.
From Benedict of Nursia: “However late, then, it may seem, let us rouse ourselves from lethargy. That is what scripture urges on us when it says: the time has come for us to rouse ourselves from sleep. Let us open our eyes to the light that can change us into the likeness of God. Let our ears be alert to the stirring call of his voice crying to us every day: today if you should hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”