The Work of Peace and Justice: Working in the Peripheries

Who are the people who live in the peripheries? They are the victims of unjust systems, the victims of war, the victims of violence, the victims of racism and hatred of every kind. They are our sisters and brothers. The work of peace and justice is hard work and, to dedicate oneself to it, is to know personal hardship and suffering. The work of peace and justice is work in the peripheries.
The systems and powers of society that survive and thrive on the back of the common people and the most vulnerable
are forever on the alert to fight and silence those who challenge them. They are merciless in defending themselves and will stop at nothing in order to protect their self-interest. Systems that prey on humanity are evil systems that must be condemned and confronted. They are the enemies of justice, and they destroy peace. They are the enemies of everything that is sacred unto God. They are very powerful, and they infiltrated the world of those, who even by personal vocation and divine calling, strive to follow the teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth.
Those who work for peace and justice will be ridiculed, scrutinized, judged, mistreated, and will experience endless attempts to silence them. They confront dangers of many types. They suffer persecution even from among their own and the negative criticism never ends. Their faith is questioned. Their dedication and love for God and humanity is questioned. They are made to look like idiots and fools in a complex world. And they are treated like floormats where the protagonists of powerful systems wipe their feet upon.
When one stands up for justice and peace, takes the side of the voiceless, empower the voiceless to find their own voice, and dares to go to the peripheries of society and live in solidarity with those on the peripheries, that one will experience the ire of the unjust. No matter, the example of Jesus of Nazareth compels us to accompany the “least of these” in compassionate solidarity as sisters and brothers to one another.
The work of peace and justice is meant to be done by the strong of will and the faith-filled who are not afraid to color outside the lines nor coward in the face of criticism and personal attacks. It is meant for the selfless who do not compromise the liberating message of Jesus of Nazareth and his call to make “the Kingdom come.” The work of peace and justice is meant for those who are not possessed by their own comforts nor their own self-image, nor overly concerned for their reputation and their agendas. The work of peace and justice is the work of the Kingdom and not about oneself. The Kingdom’s work is always about turning our gaze toward one another and taking the liberating message of Jesus of Nazareth to those that need it the most: the victims of injustice as well as the protagonists of in justice.
To proclaim the Kingdom of God, as Jesus meant it to be proclaimed, entails confronting and dismantling the systems
that keep humanity enslaved to the whims of those few whose main interest in life is self-profit and control over others.
The work on behalf of the Kingdom of God and for the Kingdom of God is hard liberating work that requires a selfless surrender to an intimate personal relationship with God. For, only a power greater than ourselves can keep us from our own agendas and keep us focused, dedicated, and sane in this hard liberating work.
The Christian work of promoting peace and justice requires an abandonment to God. An abandonment that sometimes
hurts and cuts to the quick. An abandonment that empowers us to scrutinize ourselves to the point of becoming aware of the unjust systems whose philosophies and attitudes have infiltrated our minds and souls. An abandonment that
empowers us to give voice to what is truly good and sacred unto God. It’s the type of abandonment that calls us to
ceaseless personal conversion, to the transformation of our minds, and the purification of our intentions and perspectives in the light of the Gospel message.
The Christian dedication to work for peace and justice needs to be rooted in self-abandonment to God and the teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth. It requires to live ever so mindfully and intentionally aware of and present to God and others. So much so, that even the peripheries that are beyond our horizon, do not escape us. We are called to be rooted in God with empty hands, searching and curious minds, unimaginable flexibility to turn in the direction of God, purified hearts, determined strength, and with the uncanny desire to thirst and hunger for peace and justice for all.
Furthermore, and lastly, we are invited to forsake everything for the sake of the Kingdom of God no matter what needs to change in us and among us, and no matter where it takes us.
You are in my heart and in my prayers. Peace. Friar Julio

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