The first week of Lent begins with the call to justice. The Gospel, Matthew 25, 31-46, is the judgment of the nations on the basis of their attention to the poor and marginalized.
The “nations” may refer to the pagan nations, but we might also note that this is not necessarily a judgment of individuals, but of social groups. How are we as a nation, as a church, as a social group, responding to the poor?
In the first reading from Leviticus 19, Moses is also calling on the nation to do justice and care for the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. The People of God is called to be a nation that is just.
As individuals we are called to care for the poor and to do justice. But also, what is our nation, our church doing, as an institution to promote the poor and render them justice?
We need this Lent to make a personal examination of conscience, using today’s readings as a starting point. But we also ought to examine our nation, our church, our institutions.
Why? As Leviticus says, we are called to be holy as God is holy. Notably, at the end of every command, we are reminded , “I am the Lord.”
The call to do justice and to attend to the marginalized is not merely social action; it is the way we live as the People of God.
Today’s readings are a call to the nations as well as to each one of us, because the Lord is holy and we are called to be holy – which means being people of justice.
Would that all those who serve in government positions would take these readings to heart. We’d have a very different world.
SO let us – as persons and nations – be holy and just as the Lord is holy and just.