Probably all very large cities in the world have their "slum" areas. I lived in India for three years and I saw the poor areas of Deli, Mumbai, Calcutta, etc. It was explained to me that most of the people living in these areas are not just people who have been forever poor. Most of them at one time lived in one of the small villages. They may have owned a small piece of land where they grew some rice and raised some animals. Maybe the rains did not fall or some medical need hit them hard as a family. They were forced to go to one of the local money lenders and borrow what they needed. Unable to pay back their loan they lost what little they had and were forced to come to one of the large urban slum areas in hopes of finding a way to earn a little money and just try to survive. So often they are people humbled by life but still great persons of dignity and honor.
In today’s first reading the prophet Micah paints a similar picture of injustice. Some conniving Israelites took advantage of their fellow Israelites in time of trouble, taking their land, houses and stripping them of their inheritance. God tells these evil individuals that he will allow peoples from other nations to come and destroy them and take their lands. "Our fields are portioned out among our Captors".
Quoting the prophet Isaiah, Matthew tells us in today’s gospel, "Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles."
With great gentleness but firmness, Jesus will bring justice to victory. Jesus will re-establish the right relationships between people. The "Shalom", the peace of God, will be brought back into the order of the universe.
The problems can seem so large and overwhelming in our modern world. Where do I begin? We begin by living a just life ourselves. We must also "do justice", get involved in doing what we can to change unjust structures and attitudes. We must reach out to those who are being treated unjustly.
Fr. Blaise Czaja, C.P. gives parish missions and retreats. He is a member of the Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.