Before combating external threats, we need to first look within our heart to see what needs to change.
Fighting against injustice in the world is a worthy endeavor, an essential part of the Gospel message.
However, Jesus’ method of fighting isn’t what we might think.
First of all, Jesus urges us to take a personal inventory, looking inside our own hearts before we can correct what others are doing.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me remove that splinter from your eye,” while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
It is relatively easy to advocate for someone else and rail against the injustices that are happening in the world. Yet, it is much more difficult to look at our own lives and see if we truly live up to what we are preaching against.
One of the reasons why this is so important is because our message will fall on deaf ears if we do not first live out what we preach. St. Paul VI wrote about this in his encyclical, Evangelii Nuntiandi.
Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.
We need to witness to our beliefs before we can tell others what to do.
Secondly, we need to heed the words of Jesus when he said how we will be judged at the end of time.
Then the righteous will answer him and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’”And the king will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:37-40)
Charity towards others must be at the forefront of any fight for injustice. It should form our views, but also our actions.
You cannot effectively “fight fire with fire” as the saying goes. It will only ignite more flames and the fire will be bigger.
Instead, we need to fight injustice by first looking inside our hearts, correcting what we find there, and then going out in a spirit of charity to bring peace into the world.