“The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” – Mt 23:12
“Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.” - Is 1:17
Both the Jewish and Christian traditions imagine a God who stands with the poor and the powerless. Jesus shows a clear referential option or love for the poor. Outreach to the marginalized and opposing injustices are not extra expressions of faith, they are integral to our embrace of God’s love.
The Lenten call to repentance consists of reconciliation, a bringing together. Bringing together how we practice and what we preach; closing the gap between “the haves” and the “haves not”; embracing our identity in God’s unconditional love and letting go of a sense of self that comes from possessions, prestige, power, or entitlement; allowing God to heal us and going beyond ourselves to serve the least among us.
While we serve, we realize the Pharisees within each of us: we serve and redress wrong from a place of power and privilege; we “stand over” people; we are often motivated more by the need to be recognized or liked by others than the desire to honor God. At the same time, we realize the call to “stand with” those we serve, to face our illusions of control, to share in our common poverty – our utter need for God’s healing and mercy. Jesus calls us to servant leadership so that we may be embraced by God’s reconciling love as we serve and stand with the poor.
“Lord, help me to concretely embrace your love by standing on the side of the poor and powerless.”