When Justice and Faith Meet

By Willard Metzger

The overlap between CPJ’s three main policy areas is evident: many refugees are thrust into poverty; and those in poverty are the most adversely impacted by climate change. All people interested in the common good should be concerned about these policy issues.

As a faith-based organization, rooted in the Christian tradition, CPJ views these areas of concern as a natural place of engagement. Most religious expressions adhere to ‘the golden rule’ of loving your neighbour as you love yourself. Much of the activist activity is prompted by love: love of creation, love of neighbour, love of God.

I routinely hear young adults express joy at discovering CPJ. They are especially excited to find a justice-seeking organization that is rooted in the Christian tradition. Already in the Justice Tour in 2015, I recall a young adult voice in Vancouver lamenting that the church has not stood for a significant justice issue in her lifetime. More recently in Calgary, young adults expressed a keen desire to be engaged in justice causes but have difficulty finding like-minded people in their faith community. A young adult in Ottawa was thrilled to discover CPJ excitedly stating, “I had no idea that there was a Christian-based organization that is also active in social justice!”

The implication is not so subtle. Many young adults have felt the absence of justice-seeking in their faith expression experience. I find this disturbing.

Mother Teresa understood the meaning of Jesus identifying himself with the hungry, thirsty, sick, and imprisoned. Actions of love and solidarity with the disadvantaged is experienced by Jesus: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of one of these brother and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

Can we recognize the voice of Jesus in the young adult lament that is yearning for more active justice-seeking within their faith expression?”

Mother Teresa realized that through serving those in need she discovered “Jesus in his most distressing disguise.” In other words, she recognized the eyes of Jesus in the eyes of the poor. She heard the lament of Jesus in the voice of the disadvantaged.

I wonder if we might be courageous enough to apply this same principle to the current challenge of faith expression in Canada. Can we recognize the voice of Jesus in the young adult lament that is yearning for more active justice-seeking within their faith expression? A worship experience that is solely focused on self is merely feeding the ills of an egocentric marketing society. Fulfillment isn’t attained in obtaining more. Fulfillment is realized in working towards an end where all can thrive and grow.

Perhaps CPJ can be an avenue that can help faith restore its original purpose of expressing love for God by expressing love for others. For increasingly more young adults, organizations like CPJ are a balm of hope restoring their ability to bring together faith and justice.

To provide more opportunities for this to happen, CPJ has initiated a new strategic plan to develop local chapters in key geographic locations. Local chapters of volunteers will provide opportunity for local expressions of solidarity with the disadvantaged and all of creation. And the accumulation of local activity will greatly enhance the advocacy and lobbying success at the federal government level.

I have been getting increasingly excited to see the mobilization of youth and young adults. They are no longer willing to sit idly in the side lines watching ill-informed and misguided policies destroy the environment and weaken society. They are not willing to accept a society that exalts economy above morality.

This is an exciting time in history! And CPJ is eager to help the resurgence of altruistic activity. A healthy society depends on this recovery. And communities of faith should be on the leading edge of this movement.

If you are interested in being part of these new local chapters, CPJ would love to hear from you! Urgency left isolated turns quickly to despair. But urgency expressed in solidarity and community can become an unstoppable movement.

For the love of God; and the love of neighbour, may it be so!

Photo Credit: Martin Luther University College. CPJ’s 2019  Fall Tour event in Waterloo.

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