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First Things, April 2014

April 2, 2014

We’ve been talking the last few months about the personal goals of religion.  We come to church because we hope our faith will make us stronger, happier, wiser, more peaceful, and so on.

Now in April, we start to look at the social goals of religion.  Religions work to change the world, too.

Msgr. Oscar Romero is a good figure to help us make that transition.  His faith challenged him to look personally at how he should use his life.  He felt called to use his position as a spiritual leader to help the people of El Salvador.  His personal faith became part of a larger faith working to change the world.

Cesar Chavez is another social justice hero we celebrate this time of year (his birthday is March 31).  Harvey Milk is another (born May 22).  Each man transformed his personal principles into powerful voices for social change.

We begin the season with two important religious holidays:  Passover (April 14 to 22) and Easter (April 20).  Both holidays link personal liberation to new forms of society.

Religious people sometimes divide themselves into two groups.  There are “spiritual” people who seek the personal goals of religion (and get annoyed at “politics” in the church).  And there are “social justice” people who advocate for the social goals of religion, and who get annoyed at the apathy of other members of the church.

But religion is not personal or social.  Spirituality requires both kinds of change. You cannot enjoy peace for yourself without wanting it for the world.  You cannot create peace in the world, if you don’t have it for yourself.

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