The 2015 SMA Summer School, held at the Dromantine Conference & Retreat Centre, Newry, had as its theme, Living Faith means Living Justly. The Summer School brought together SMA priests, members of the SMA Justice and Laity Commissions, lay members of the Armagh Diocesan Justice committee and other lay participants.
On the third day Fr Peter McVerry SJ, spoke about Motivating and maintaining engagement for Justice. The title of his talk was The Kingdom of God and the Passion for Justice.
Fr Peter reminded us that “unless our commitment to justice is deeply rooted in our following of Jesus, unless we understand the commitment to justice to be intrinsically linked to the mission of Jesus, then our commitment to justice will waver, weaken or be understood as something important but marginal to what we are called to do.”
Speaking about young people who are walking away from the Church, disinterested, he suggests that they are the prophets of today. And as often happens, instead of listening to these young people the Church blames them for straying and asks prayers that they will see sense and return some day. Maybe the Church needs to rethink its strategy and listen to contrary voices?
Fr Peter spoke about the dream of Jesus that all people would live together as one family, God’s family. “In a family of four children, the parents do not give three of the children a nice steak for their dinner, and give the fourth child bread and jam; no, everyone shares what little they may have. Yet that is what the family of God does to one billion people on our planet who live on the edge of destitution. This is not how God wants God’s family to live. In a family of four children, the parents do not give three of the children a nice warm bed to sleep in and tell the fourth to sleep outside on the porch. This is not how God wants God’s family to live. No, the children share whatever rooms they have in the house. Yet that is what the family of God does to homeless people in every city of our world.“
He concluded his address with the following: “Jesus had a dream. Does the Church today share that dream, or has it, in the harsh reality of contemporary life, forgotten the dream? Perhaps Pope Francis is calling us again to live in, and for, God’s dream.”
To read Fr McVerry’s presentation click The Kingdom of God and the Passion for Justice.
Social Justice, Faith and the Public Square – Presentation of Baroness Nuala O’Loan to the SMA Summer School 2015