Righteousness And Justice


2nd Sunday Of Advent

Deacon Tom Vert

Preached: December 4, 2022

“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be satisfied.”

This famous line from the Sermon on the Mount is the focus of today’s readings that talk about a dream of a future of justice and peace.

Righteousness is a key word in both the Old and New Testaments that means “actively doing the will of God”.

It means that persons who hunger and thirst for righteousness are not those who just focus on being personally holy, and not those who dream of a better future, but instead those who actively try and make the world a better place in the place where they are planted.

A great example is the Baptist preacher Martin Luther King who said in his famous speech:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope!”

But he did not just talk about a dream, he actively marched and met and fought for justice and was rewarded with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965, which changes the lives of millions of African Americans.

He also reminded us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Therefore, change takes a long time, but with persistence it does happen.

But another leader cautioned that “the arc bends toward justice, but it only bends toward justice because people pull it towards justice. It doesn’t happen on its own.”

This is the challenge of the readings today!

If as we sing in the psalm “justice shall flourish and fullness of peace forever”, it is because we are sent by Christ through our baptism to bring the kingdom of God to the world and plant the seeds of hope, joy and love each day, each hour, and each minute of our lives!

In the first reading today, the prophet Isaiah foreshadows the kingdom of God and Christ’s coming and what life could be like if all were Christ-like.

We hear:

“Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, etc.”

And I was thinking that if Isaiah were here today in 2022, maybe he would write it slightly different this way:

  • Then the countries at war would make peace and prosperity their goals.
  • The Israelites and Palestinians shall drink coffee quietly together and speak of their families.
  • The Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, and Coptic’s shall worship together in one place.
  • All shall have a goal of protecting our environment in the best way they can.
  • Our religion will be inclusive for all the weak, tired and needy and not exclusive to the holy.
  • The homeless will have the help they need and a safe shelter in the storms.
  • The disparity between rich and poor will be smaller and there will be no need for food banks.
  • People will spend more time listening and less time arguing.

A huge challenge no doubt, but the same focus as 3000 years ago when this was written: a dream to have a just and righteous world to live in.

Justice, as we know, is a quality ascribed to God; that He is just and right; but it also means to focus on social justice to help the poor, the needy, and the oppressed; God wants us to live morally and ethically.

The good news is that when God’s will is done, “peace” is the result, peace that is beyond our understanding

The world we live in is not just or right yet – but we need to be a part of the solution!

I love listening to the song from John Lennon every Christmas season “and so this is Christmas, and what have you done”?

He wrote it as a reminder that we are all personally accountable to be part of the solution and to bring forth a better world.

“Another year older and what have we done?  Is a question as an Advent prayer to reflect upon.

It is a similar challenge to what John the Baptist says to the people on the river banks of the Jordan in the gospel today:

“Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.”

To repent as we know means to turn back toward God; but it is always followed with God demanding our actions to do better.

To produce good fruit by planting seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, and gentleness.

It is not easy and can be tiring, but Pope Francis reminds us “To all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world”.

I would like to finish today’s homily with a quote from the famous Methodist preacher John Wesley (yes I am being very ecumenical today) who said this over 300 years ago”

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as you can.”

And as you do this during the next week remember this:

“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be satisfied.”


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