Pause

Saint Jerome, a 4th-century priest, said:

“Someone may ask, ‘How is justice greater than all the other virtues?’ The other virtues gratify the one who possesses them; justice does not give pleasure to the one possessing it, but instead pleases others.”

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Listen

No one took my side at my first court hearing. Everyone deserted me. I hope that God doesn’t hold it against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that the entire message would be preached through me and so all the nations could hear it. I was also rescued from the lion’s mouth! The Lord will rescue me from every evil action and will save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and always. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:16-18

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Think

In my final year of seminary I took a class on Indigenous African Religions – a class that was all the more remarkable because it wasn’t held at the seminary, but at a Women’s Correctional Facility, or prison, in upstate New York. Every Monday we passed through pat downs, metal detectors, and gates to sit alongside a group of women who were just as interested to talk about religion as we were. Like Paul, these women know what it’s like to stand in front of a hostile courtroom feeling abandoned, alone.

The courts of the Roman Empire condemn Paul to death, simply because of his religion. Sitting in the prison classroom, I couldn’t help but notice that all of our fellow classmates but one were women of color – and I couldn’t help but wonder if our justice system had let them down too.

Read about mass incarceration and ask yourself what Jesus would do. And then remember that God stood by Paul in the courtroom when no one else did. Go, and do likewise.

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

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Pray

God of the lonely, the abandoned, the poor, and the oppressed – give me strength to stand by those whom society ignores or casts aside. Help me to love them, to learn from them, and to make this world a better place for all of us. Amen.

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Go

The present form of the world passes away, and there remains only the joy of having used this world to establish God’s rule here. All pomp, all triumphs, all selfish[ness] ... All of that passes away.

What does not pass away is love.

Saint Oscar Romero, bishop and martyr, from a 1979 homily

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

Heidi Thorsen Oxford is a hospital chaplain, the Outreach Coordinator for Chapel on Green, New Haven, and a candidate for ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Things that bring her joy include: her husband, two cats, painting religious icons, and drinking tea.

Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2

Garry Bailey

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