When the institutional church fails to practice the justice it so movingly proclaims to the world, we are diminished as Christians. How many tears must a woman shed for her sons? How many tears are being shed today by mothers for their children; by sisters for their brothers; by daughters for their fathers? The tears of women around the world water the earth every day. As I got off the bus which took me to visit a loved one in prison, the women gathered in the waiting room with tears, fear, anger, and eagerness. Some of them shared their stories and some of them brought their children. Their tears were real and so was their faith.
I volunteer for the wonderful prison ministry here at our church and it was the week of Thanksgiving. I was hired to play the guitar for a special Thanksgiving Mass to be held that week in a local jail. The local Bishop and priests were invited to say Mass for the inmate population. Over fifty priests showed up and the press was there to take pictures of the church living its ministry to the poor, oppressed and imprisoned. The tiny chapel could only hold about sixty people. Only ten inmates were invited to attend this Mass. If there were not so many priests present for this ministerial photo-op, there would have been room for more inmates to attend. I can only imagine, if Jesus were there, as in the temple, he would have stormed in and knocked over the tables and maybe even punched a few priests in the noses. Jesus wasn’t angry over money changing hands that day as much as he was angry that the vendors displaced the poorest of the poor from being able to enter the temple to pray.
Like Jesus himself, the women and children and the inmates are like grain to be ground by the millstone of injustice. The powers and principalities will one day be vanquished, but in the interim, there is solace in mutual love and steadfast resistance.
Jesus, as you carry your cross you see a group of women along the road. As you pass by you see they are sad. You stop to spend a moment with them, to offer them some encouragement. Although you are have been abandoned by your friends and are in pain, you stop and try to help them. Sometimes we act like children. We become so absorbed in ourselves and in what we’d like that we forget about the needs of others. We take them for granted, and often ignore their needs. Help us to think more about others. Help us to remember that others have problems, too. Help us respond to them even when we’re busy or preoccupied with our own problems.