Help Us with Our Mission of Making Real Justice
By Patrick Winn

As Christmas gets extended further each year we see Santa appear before Halloween. Or maybe that’s the newest costume, one that can cover two holidays sandwiched around Thanksgiving.

Christmas also gets extended by celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles. We get a sense of the extended season of Christmas by reserving Jan. 6 to commemorate the arrival of the Magi at the stable of Jesus’ birth.

More messages of Epiphany come throughout the Gospels from miracles and teachings of Jesus, and later in the letters of St. Paul, dubbed “The Apostle to the Gentiles.”

Significantly, the word Epiphany has come to mean any kind of sudden manifestation of a truth or realization of an event. The Gospels don’t tell us how many magi actually arrived, only that they brought three precious and symbolic gifts.

The Gospels, unlike traditional carols, don’t identify them as kings who came to pay homage. Thankfully, that leaves room for us ordinary folks to join their caravan of wisdom to appreciate the sudden but steady manifestation of the Savior.

Without diminishing our direct service programs that “assist people in achieving a degree of independence consonant with their human dignity,” Catholic Charities is going to examine the array of injustices that impact the individuals and groups with whom we work and from whom we learn. We want to address the actions, programs, economic conditions and various pressures that distract from individuals’ ability to achieve dignified independence.     

Catholic Charities’ programs involve direct work with individuals and groups, sometimes struggling to survive, and other times trying to find new direction in their lives, or just to be acknowledged.

As important as those direct services are, and sometimes they are literally life-saving, our mission statement also calls for us to work with the Church and “other people of good will in advocating for justice.” For the Apostle to the Gentiles, it took him being knocked from his horse. Talk about an epiphany!

Sometimes it’s easy to identify those in need of immediate assistance and those situations may help us define “justice.” For others, the subtle, personal injustice of a lost job or family member may conflict with how others define the word “justice.”

“Justice” is not only prison time for a criminal. It may also be releasing a victim of crime or abuse from the jail of fear. Hunger and homelessness may be injustices caused by economic downturns. But where is the “justice” in deciding who lives where and how? How can human trafficking ever be justified? What kind of epiphany will it take to knock most of us from our horses ... or our comfort?

Please join us in those efforts with your thoughts, observations, criticisms and advice. Our New Year’s resolutions will involve being true to our faith and ready to be knocked from our own saddles.

 Merry Christmas and Happy Epiphany from Your Catholic Charities