Justice Matters
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By Jeanette Arnquist

I belong to a group that meets for prayer, faith sharing and food every Saturday. Of course, we have been meeting via Zoom lately. Most of us in the group are being extremely careful about social distancing because of our age and or health. My husband and I have been under “house arrest” by order of our children for two months.

The question of what we would have done had we been in Jerusalem 2000 years ago came up. Where would we have been? What would we have done about the crucifixion of Jesus? In this time of global suffering those are very good questions. Would we have been among the followers of Jesus? Remember that he wasn’t part of the Jewish establishment. He was always challenging the status quo and often criticized the scribes and Pharisees. He was accused of blasphemy. He broke the Sabbath. He hung out with unsavory characters.

Maybe we would have known about him and listened at the edge of the crowds that gathered, pondering his words but keeping distance. Or maybe we would have been among those who felt threatened and thought he should be silenced. If we were among the followers of Jesus, I am guessing that many of our family and friends would have distanced themselves from us, the ancient equivalent of “unfriending.”

Would we have recognized this Jesus carrying his cross through the streets as the Christ? Would we have stepped forward to help carry the cross of wipe the blood and sweat from his face? Or would we have held back to see what would happen, or, even worse, cheered when he fell?

The answer to that question is what are we doing today? Are we seeing Christ in the migrant, in the homeless panhandler on the street corner, in the single parent on welfare? Are we offering them what help we can? Are we donating to organizations that support them? What are our views on public policy that impacts their lives? Are we able to be in solidarity with them, even though we might be keeping our social distance?

If we can’t recognize Christ in the poor among us, then we would not have recognized him 2000 years ago.

Jeanette Arnquist is a former Director of the Department of Life, Dignity & Justice for the Diocese of San Bernardino. She is retired and living in Tuscon, Arizona where she remains active in social concerns ministries.