‘A Time to Act’ – Reflection

A reflection on the theme of Racial Justice Sunday 2021 - 'A Time for Action'.

Racial Justice Sunday 2021

At the beginning of his public ministry Jesus outlines his Mission in the synagogue in Nazareth:

‘He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour’

His ministry was one of compassionate involvement, concern for the disadvantaged. Aware of obstacles, including those of the Law, which limited joy and fulfilment Jesus acted. He confronted, sometimes angrily, what undermined a person’s dignity.

The theme of Racial Justice Sunday 2021 is A Time to Act.

Racial issues and inequalities were identified nationally and internationally in 2020 generating awareness, emotion and outrage.  In light of this Racial Justice Sunday 2021 is particularly significant.

Action is needed

Action is needed to further the cause of racial justice. What can we do?

In recent years Pope Francis has repeatedly used four verbs encouraging positive and direct action in relation to migrants and refugees, ‘Welcome, Protect, Promote and Integrate’. These same words are essential to advancing the cause of racial justice. None can be omitted, it is as necessary to have plans to Promote and Integrate as it is to Welcome.

Mark 1:21-28

Gospel reading on Racial Justice Sunday

Jesus’ sermon in the synagogue in Capernaum triggered a reaction from a member of the congregation. (It is always unnerving to have your sermon interrupted by someone who disagrees with your words). ‘What do you want with us?’ ‘Have you come to destroy us?’

The duty of the Prophet in speaking God’s words and so bringing God’s light into lives and situations is to enlighten, to encourage, sometimes to warn. To identify what action is needed to ensure that all God’s people know they are equally valued by society and the Church.

The plea of the psalmist today is ‘ …listen to his voice, harden not your hearts’.

Racial Justice Sunday is a time to absorb fully this scriptural request.

Listening to the voice of God and the voice of the Church we learn of equal love for all:

  • Voices that discriminate unjustly, attitudes that undermine on the grounds of race must be opposed.
  • Voices of those who feel rejected or perpetually in second place must be listened to.
  • The dignity of all must be respected and promoted.

In the Church we proclaim that everyone of whatever racial origin should be Welcomed, Protected, Promoted and Integrated.

We need to challenge ourselves to act now so that this may be achieved.

This is reinforced in a message from Bishop Paul McAleenan – Lead Bishop for Racial Justice.