By Bishop José García
In the beginning, God gave humankind authority to “subdue the earth” and be stewards of His creation. (Genesis 1:28, Psalms 8:6-8). This stewardship is exercised through human structures for governance and service, which are intended for the benefit of humanity and the natural resources of the planet. Therefore, we have a duty to exercise good governance through policies and laws that provide equitable choice and opportunity in health, education, jobs, nutrition, safety, and shelter for all.
God has called us to pay special care in doing what is right and just for those who are marginalized, and struggling with hunger and poverty (Psalms 72:4, Proverbs 31:9, Isaiah 11:4). This is because the stain of sin has contaminated human structures and systems that were intended for good. A world perfectly created by God with enough resources for sustainable and harmonious coexistence with nature has been corrupted. Oppression, greed, selfishness, and abuse of power have led to poverty, hunger, and violence.
But God made provision, through Christ’s sacrifice, “to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). Through the Sinai covenant, God outlined the commands, and instructions for worship and reverence for His people to reconcile their relationship with Him. Keeping this covenant also required Israel to care and seek justice for its neighbors. To Christians, Jesus’ sacrifice calls on us to share and live a gospel that brings redemption from sin, and His love compels us to a life of holiness that translates God’s love through a witness of service, mercy, compassion, and justice towards our neighbors. Jesus told the disciples that the whole law can be summarized by loving God above all things and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Mathew 22:36-40).
During Lent, we are reminded of how Jesus, prior to the beginning of His earthly ministry, went to the desert to pray and fast for 40 days. He endured the hardship of the harsh weather, rough terrain, and temptation. He came back from that experience filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to “bring good news to the poor … to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk 4:18-19). These 40 days of prayer and fasting served as a time to discern God´s will and define Jesus’s ministry.
As you pray, fast, and reflect on how to deepen your relationship with God during this season of Lent, you see that our nation is dealing with issues of hunger, poverty, immigration, mass incarceration, health, misogyny, climate change, and lack of civility. Ask God for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to lead you in a faith journey that moves you to express how much you love God by seeking justice for your neighbor in any of these issues.
May God´s grace, mercy and love be with you.
Bishop José García is senior advisor for prayer and strategic initiatives at Bread for the World.