Bible Verse: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

Scripture Reading: Luke 18:9-30

Engraved at the entrance to the Temple Anshe Sholom [in Hamilton, ON] are the prophet Micah’s well-known words, “Do justice, show mercy, walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). I believe that that command from God perfectly captures our personal, communal and public responsibility today.

Walking together is extremely important for people of faith, for at least two reasons. First, our largely secularized culture declares faith of whatever kind to be private and irrelevant to the everyday activities of our society. That heresy is best overcome when people from a variety of faiths counter it together. And second, in my experience, the different ways of “life” that we see around us are in fact often ways of death. They lead to the degradation of the environment, the exploitation of people and the marginalization of weak and vulnerable neighbours. They lead even to the exclusion of children from the benefits they are entitled to as human beings and citizens. Such ways of death are oblivious to the fact that children are created equally in God’s image and are full members of society.

So we do not need simply to walk together. Rather, we need to walk together in a new direction. In a new way of life that takes sharp issue with the old ways of death offered up by our deeply secularized culture.

What are those ways of death? Think particularly of the ideologies of individualism and materialism. The brand of individualism we encounter today mostly pushes the individual’s primary goal to get ahead materially. It trumpets: “Never mind the needs of others, never mind the legitimate needs and rights of the wider society. My needs, my wants, my demands come first. Forget about everybody else’s!” Only to the degree that we begin to understand what it means to walk and work together in community will we be able to stem and reverse the tide of rabid individualism.

Let me give you an example. When I lived in Nazi-occupied Europe, my parents worked together with others in their village to try to overcome the oppression. My dad ran a small convenience store, together with my mom. When the war broke out, they stored cans of condensed milk. They kept those cans for a long time. In fact, they did not open them until the “hungry winter” of 1944, when some women pushing their baby buggies walked all the way from Rotterdam and Amsterdam to the northern part of The Netherlands. They also stopped in the village where we lived. That is when my parents opened those cans of condensed milk. They added water and used them as food for the children. That was the best they could do to save those children from starvation. They did so because of their clear commitment to God and the common good. And they did it together with many other people in the village. It truly does take a village, a community, to do things in such a way that new life emerges and flourishes.

— Gerald Vandezande in Justice, Not Just Us
© Public Justice Resource Centre, 1999.

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