December 11, 2016

Pete HaackJustice Matters0 Comments

An interfaith network working for justice in Lawrence

Generally, I write about the processes and facts of the organization we know as Justice Matters. This time I’d like to share a personal experience with you.

Recently, at an orientation for a Justice Matters Strategic Planning Committee there were 6 people from as many different faith traditions present. At one point we were talking about growing the network in order to assure a full house at the Lied Center for our Nehemiah Action Assembly each year. The large number of people is how we work as one to change systems for the benefit of brothers and sisters in need. It is the public show of support for proposed changes that can influence decision makers in our community.

One of the youngest of the group admitted he had hosted a house meeting the first year and joined a research committee but the second season chose not to host a house meeting. He didn’t see how using his time in that way was helpful but he did continue as a network member.

During that second season his pastor preached about our biblical mandates to do justice, love mercy and walk faithfully with God (Micah 6:8 and Matthew 23:23). The young man had read those scriptures many times but with hearing his pastor talk about that mandate as a whole package there was a new insight that he wasn’t fulfilling his obligation. His words to us were, “Until then, I didn’t get it.”

I had the same experience during the first season when I realized this was going to be a long and hard journey to system changes. I realized that as a Catholic I had never learned the difference between mercy and justice. Working with Justice Matters is the first time as a church member I’ve had the experience of ‘doing justice’.

When I returned home I resumed wrapping Advent and St. Nickolas gifts. I love to make the packages look as nice as possible with pretty paper and lush bows. As I finished tying a bow I wondered, “How would it affect the recipient to receive only 2/3 of this gift”. What would the gift look like if I cut off a third of a book, shirt or sweater? Does God notice that I’m giving only 2/3 of the mandate to love God and neighbor by neglecting one of the weightier things of the law?

For me, there is no going back. I am compelled to stand with those in need and do what I can to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. As we observe this season of waiting and anticipation please remember in charity and mercy those in need and resolve to work for justice to make their plight better in the coming years.
For more information please contact me, Pat Lechtenberg, at or 785-842-1992. Happy Advent.

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