The Eucharist and Social Justice

By Matt Marchand

We have been seeing a lot of calls for Social Justice in our modern world. There are many people who are feeling oppressed and downtrodden and many more who are feeling like nobody can hear their voice. In a world full of fast paced digital media and constant noise, it is easy to feel like our efforts are futile.

With elections and politics thrown in the mix, the world seems even more chaotic. It is like we are all in a boat on the sea and a great storm has whipped up around us. It can seem to us like God is sleeping. We want to cry, “Wake-up, Lord! Can’t you see that we are all in great peril?” 

Jesus responds to us in the scriptures, he asks us, his disciples, tossed about in the storm, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (MK 4:40). Jesus can calm this storm as easily as He can calm a storm at sea. Sometimes we try to fix things that are out of our control, but God wants us to trust Him and have faith in Him.

It is easy for us to be caught up in all of our causes because we care about our planet, our neighbors, and those who are suffering. However, a common problem is that we try to impose peace on the world around us when we don’t yet have peace in our own heart. 

The Catholic Church has lead the effort of global social justice since its beginning. Because at the very heart of our faith is our desire to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is the Golden Rule.

This rule is essential because God is ONE, Jesus Christ came to bring unity and love to all human beings. His prayer for us was that we might be one as He and His Father are one. Therefore, on the day of Pentecost God gave his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism (which is strengthened at your Confirmation) so that God can dwell in you and you can live in God.

Jesus also gives Himself to us, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist so that we can be ONE body, calling each other brother and sister. The Eucharist means love and it means unity! We are invited to be ONE with the Prince of Peace, and through him be ONE with one another. This way we can bring that peace into the world.

Though public policy is important to ensure a fair and productive society, no law can cure a sinner’s heart. Only love, forgiveness, and mercy! Therefore, at the heart of Catholic Social Justice is the Christian’s pure dedication to unity and love.

We can and should only come to the Eucharist when we have asked God for His forgiveness for the times that we have sinned. For when we have been the cause of disunity, selfishness, and unfairness to others. 

Likewise, we can only approach Social Justice with the same spirit of humility. Recognizing that everyone is a sinner is a crucial part of the process. All of us are dependent on God’s mercy for eternal life, so no one is worthy of God’s love on merit. God gives His love freely to us, despite our unworthiness. Therefore, we need to love others even if they are unworthy, in order to be more like God. 

The incredible humility of the Eucharist invites us to be humble too! If we fight to defend one person while hating another, that is antithetical to love. We are called to love those who love us, but we are also called to love our enemies. We are allowed to hate injustice and be offended by it, because God Himself hates it and is offended by it. But we cannot become what we despise. We cannot fight hatred with hatred, we can only answer it with love.

When we receive communion, we are intended to become ONE with Jesus. How did He deal with injustice. He was perfectly innocent and the most Holy Being to ever walk on Earth, and they tortured and crucified Him unjustly.

He had the power to destroy all of His enemies, to enslave them, to make them do whatever He wanted them to do. He IS God. But what did He do? He turned the greatest injustice the world has ever known or will know, into a permanent and universal symbol of God’s love; the cross! He did not lash out in violence against those who mocked and harmed him. He said, “Forgive them Father, they known not what they do.”

Through the Eucharist, let us become the hands, feet, and heart of Christ in the world. We should always stand against injustice, but it is more important to mold our hearts to perfect love. To love our children or parents even if they don’t understand us and we don’t understand them. To love people we disagree with. To be kind to those who slight us. 

In this way, we contribute nothing to injustice, while at the same time we become the solution. Your warmth and kindness will win many hearts to the Lord and His ways. I will not pretend that this is easy, and it will almost certainly cause you to sacrifice. But if we remain humble, go to Confession, and receive Communion as often as we can, we will be doing the work of bringing Jesus’ love and mercy into the world.  

Instead of embracing hatred to fight hatred and becoming what you despise. Embrace Jesus in the Eucharist and fight hatred with forgiveness and mercy, and then you will become what you love most; You will become just like God.