Every night before I go to bed, I watch Stephen Colbert. I truly believe that Stephen Colbert is a great voice for modern day Christianity. He is a dedicated Catholic who is willing to put the Pope, Cardinals, and Bishops in their place. I have deep-rooted trust in anyone who is willing to deconstruct his own tradition and return to it. This is one of the classic Stephen Colbert quotes that has famously stuck in my head.
“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”- Stephen Colbert
It would be hard to read the Bible and ignore all of the passages about justice in it. The Bible makes statements like, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me,” and, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion–how can God’s love be in that person?” I think this is clearly something about the mission of God, when he tells us to reach out and help those who cannot help themselves.
My fear is, however, that most of us take this passage and make it about how great we are. While I know that God wants to get stuff done, and will use someone with self-gratifying motivations to accomplish his work, I truly believe that the work of helping those lesser than we, is for us. The gift is much more for the giver than the receiver. When we are exposed to the suffering of the world, our hearts, our minds, our worldviews are exposed with it. Henri Nouwen once beautifully said that we can either be arrogant victims or wounded healers. The wounded people in life, the least of these in life, are also the healers of life. Their vulnerability, their brokenness, is their gift. It allows us to open ourselves up to other human beings. It allows us to open ourselves up to God.
The Christian life is meant to be have justice filled acts. In doing this, it is also meant to give the creative, live-giving and healing energy of the Holy Spirit that is passed on from the wounded one, to the healing one. The healer, recognizes their own inner poverty by opening themselves up to the exterior poverty of others. This is the work of God, who is working in people, and is reconciling all things to himself. One work of justice at a time.