Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; make justice your aim, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“Make justice your aim,” cries Isaiah to the people. Isaiah proclaims God’s way of repentance, to “set things right,” when all has gone wrong. God’s way of repentance isn’t condemnation, but rather overcoming wrongs by pursuing justice. When the orphan and widow are properly cared for, recognized with dignity, then we are on the path of repentance, setting things right. There is no repentance without the pursuit of justice, the visible action of salvific love. Perhaps I am repenting of wrongs this Lent, and so like Isaiah’s people, I’m called outward from self-focus to other-centeredness, especially towards those who seek a lifting up and affirmation of their dignity. Then we are restored together, as in the responsorial psalm, as the “upright” who see the saving power of God, or, the “greatest” in Matthew’s Gospel, ones who act through service. Collectively then, the world may know that Christians are repentant of our wrongs, because through our humble pursuit of justice others are “exalted.”
—Fr. Nathan Wendt, SJ serves as assistant to the president of Creighton Prep and as chaplain of Jesuit Academy.
“Lord, I am a sinner. Come with your Mercy.” — Pope Francis
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