Tools for social change

INTRODUCTION

Exercising social justice does not only mean confronting those who violate a person’s dignity or rights. It can also mean doing ordinary things that help others grow in their relationship with God and others. But before this can happen, the tools needed to promote an equal society for all must first be cultivated.

WRITTEN BY

SHARE THE WORD

PUBLISHED ON

Being intricately woven in all aspects of society, the Church is mindful and vigilant of the promotion of the values of social justice, or the lack of it. Throughout its history, people within the Church realized the importance of establishing social justice and, thus, called for the commitment of the Christian community and the continuous conversion of the Church towards justice.

In the past century, society has witnessed a surge in awareness for such issues. In the Protestant and Catholic Churches, for example, people realized how important it was to work for justice and peace. In the course of their work, Churches recognized that respect for the environment played a role in promoting justice and peace. That is why, today, all local Churches have Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation Committees. These are responsible for the many awareness and action projects of the Churches. Many priests and ministers tackle justice and peace in their preaching, and many ministries are now focusing on these issues. 

 

THE FIRST TOOL: PEOPLE

Greater awareness of justice and peace was cut out for the Catholic Church by Vatican Council II. With the approval of the decree Lumen Gentium, “Light of the Nations,” the Council Fathers urged believers to become a “messianic people,” a visible sign to the rest of the world of a new reality: the Kingdom of God. Under the decree, the follower of Christ is called to continue His work here on earth by proclaiming the presence of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is not a spiritual reality, but a holistic reality. It means that God is present among us and His Word is the light needed for our life. He also wants us to build structures that allow the whole of creation to come to maturity, with special attention given to all human beings and their right to know God and follow Him. 

This is what Jesus actually meant by becoming “the yeast in the three measures of flour.” Three measures of flour (se’a in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke) correspond to about four-hundred-fifty kilograms of flour. No one could work on such a mass of flour by hand. In the Bible, only Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was able to work three measures of flour. This was when God came to visit Abraham at Mamre. These biblical images teach us two things: by working on the mass of flour as Sarah did, the Christian community welcomes God. And by becoming the yeast, believers are able to empower themselves to work on an even larger reality.

Examples in the Church’s history attest to answering this call to become “the yeast.” The martyrs of the first centuries stood up against the absolute power of the Roman Empire. The first Christians helped the poor and asked for just laws. In the Middle Ages, the Church promoted the birth of financial institutions to support those neglected in societies. The first hospitals, “guest houses” in Latin, were created by the Church to care for those in need of medical attention. The list continues to this day. 

 

THE SECOND TOOL: MINISTERS 

In all these instances, the Church acted through ministers who had the competence to take on a new service to the poor and oppressed. As the Church becomes more aware of the need for justice, there is an urgent need to prepare ministers and equip them with the necessary tools to facilitate this work in our societies. They will sustain the people’s journey, supporting the mission of the Church in the world to proclaim and build the Kingdom of God. This ministry cannot be done haphazardly. From clear methodology that draws its content from the experience and the social teaching of the Church and especially from the Word of God, a great master plan for liberation, is needed. 

The Bible, in fact, can be read as the continuous presence of God in human history, a God who does not merely sit at the window to see what happens, but a God who wishes all oppressed people to be liberated. “I heard the cry of My people,” the Lord said. We also learn from the Bible that the prophets were called to address imbalances in society, focus people’s attention on the poor and the oppressed, and urge people to conversion. Theirs was not a call for a religious change or for more sacrifices and ritual, but a going out of the Temple to care for the marginalized! 

Social ministers will have to develop the same ability the prophets had: to read reality from the point of view of God. This social analysis will take into consideration not only the social structures but, most especially the mechanisms that move the human being. These include culture, traditions, misunderstandings, personal egos, etc. In doing so, the social minister will recognize what makes people advance, and what blocks them. 

This is an important analysis especially in the context of religion, a powerful tool to move people, or to control them. Indeed, in our history, we can recognize when the wrong understanding of God has blocked the development of the Kingdom by supporting structures of evil. How many times has the wrong interpretation of the Gospel promoted the stiffness of a society that took advantage of the poor? Therefore, it is important to understand the need for spirituality, communion with God, and for channelling this tremendous strength towards a real growth according to God’s will.

Having these tools, one can now translate the values of justice and peace into reality through projects and pastoral activities. For instance, if a local community realizes that a potholed road is hindering local development, a social minister may decide to bring together all stakeholders and help them recognize the problem and identify the solution. The outcome, the repairing of the road, becomes a step forward in creating a just environment for all. It is also a step towards making a community be aware of what is required to address the needs of all. Even though there is nothing spiritual in road repair, the enhancement of community and service to all is already a sign of conversion.  

Share Your Thoughts

All comments are moderated

From The Same Issue

The articles and content about this issue

From The Same Issue

The articles and content about this issue

From This Topic

The articles and content about this topic

From This Topic

The articles and content about this topic

WM Special

A life of service

Explore Other Topics

Browse other coverage

Explore Other Topics

Browse other coverage

WM SPECIAL

Presents, discusses and draws readers to reflect on issues of outmost relevance to the world today.


FRONTIERS

Very often, mission is carried out in frontier situations around the world. Those who embrace these situations have much to share.


UNITY IN DIVERSITY

Writer Ilsa Reyes will be exploring the richness of Pope Francis’s latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti with a view of helping our readers to get a grasp of the this beautiful papal document.


FRONTLINE

Puts to the front committed and inspiring people around the world who embrace humanitarian and religious causes with altruism and passion.


IN FOCUS

Focus on a given theme of interest touching upon social, economic and religious issues.


FAITH@50

As the Philippines prepares to celebrate 500 years of the arrival of Christianity. Fr. James Kroeger leads us in this series into a discovery journey of the landmark events in the history of faith in the Philippine archipelago.


INSIGHT

Aims to nurture and inspire our hearts and minds while pondering upon timely themes.


FILIPINO FOCUS

The large archipelago of the Philippines, in its richness of peoples and cultures, offers varied and challenging situations for mission.


FOLLOW ME

Reflections and vocation stories that shape up the lives of young people.


MISSION IS FUN

As humor and goodness of heart are qualities of Christian and missionary life, the new column “Mission is fun” will be publishing some anecdotes and stories that have happened in a missionary context to lighten up the spirits and trigger a smile in our faces.


LIVING COMMUNION

To help readers of World Mission live this year dedicated to Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, Tita Puangco, writer and lecturer, shares in this section insights on the spirituality of communion.


WINDS OF THE SPIRIT

A historic view of the Catholic movements that emerged from the grassroots as an inspiration by the Holy Spirit.


BRIDGE BUILDERS

On the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, radio host and communicator Ilsa Reyes, in her monthly column, encourages Christians and people of good will to be one with their fellow people of other sects, religions and tribes.


INTERVIEW

Questions to a personality of the Church or secular world on matters of interest that touch upon the lives of people.


WORLD TOUCH

News from the Church, the missionary world and environment that inform and form the consciences.


CARE OF THE EARTH

A feature on environmental issues that are affecting the whole world with the view of raising awareness and prompting action.


EDITORIAL

The editor gives his personal take on a given topic related to the life of the Church, the society or the world.


YOUNG HEART

A monthly column on themes touching the lives of young people in the Year of the Youth in the Philippines by radio host and communicator I lsa Reyes.


SCROLL

A missionary living in the Chinese world shares his life-experiences made up of challenges and joyous encounters with common people.


EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE

Life stories of people who deserve to be known for who they were, what they did and what they stood for in their journey on earth.


ONE BY ONE

Stories of people whom a missionary met in his life and who were touched by Jesus in mysterious ways.


INCREASE OUR FAITH

Critical reflection from a Christian perspective on current issues.


SPECIAL MOMENTS

Comboni missionary Fr. Lorenzo Carraro makes a journey through history pinpointing landmark events that changed the course of humanity.


PROFILE

A biographical sketch of a public person, known for his/her influence in the society and in the Church, showing an exemplary commitment to the service of others.


WM REPORTS

Gives fresh, truthful, and comprehensive information on issues that are of concern to all.


LIFE'S ESSENTIALS

A column aimed at helping the readers live their Christian mission by focusing on what is essential in life and what it entails.


ASIAN FOCUS

Peoples, events, religion, culture and the society of Asia in focus.


THE SEARCHER'S PATH

The human heart always searches for greatness in God’s eyes, treading the path to the fullness of life - no matter what it takes.


INDIAN FOCUS

The subcontinent of India with its richness and variety of cultures and religions is given center stage.


AFRICAN FOCUS

The African continent in focus where Christianity is growing the fastest in the world.


JOURNEY MOMENTS

Well-known writer and public speaker, Fr. Jerry Orbos, accompanies our journey of life and faith with moments of wit and inspiration based on the biblical and human wisdom.


IGNATIUS STEPS

On the year dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyala, Fr. Lorenzo Carraro walks us through the main themes of the Ignatian spirituality.


THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF JESUS

Fr. John Taneburgo helps us to meditate every month on each of the Seven Last Words that Jesus uttered from the cross.


INSIDE THE HOLY BOOK

In this section, Fr. Lorenzo delves into the secrets and depths of the Sacred Scriptures opening for us the treasures of the Sacred Book so that the reader may delight in the knowledge of the Word of God.


CONVERSATIONS

Reflections about the synodal journey on a conversational and informal style to trigger reflection and sharing about the synodal path the Church has embarked upon.

Shopping Cart