I’m currently reading “A Theology of Liberation,” by Gustavo Gutierrez, and I came across an extraordinary passage today. Gutierrez is discussing the tendency of those opposed to the work of social justice by the Church to argue that temporal justice is not a prerequisite for God’s Kingdom, and thus eschatologically unnecessary. Gutierrez disagrees, and writes
The prophets announce a kingdom of peace. But peace presupposes the establishment of justice: “Righteousness shall yield peace and it’s fruit [shall] be quietness and confidence forever” (Isa. 32:17; cf. also Ps. 85). It presupposes the defense of the rights of the poor, punishment of the oppressors, a life free from the fear of being enslaved by others, the liberation of the oppressed. Peace, justice, love and freedom are not private realities; they are not only internal attitudes. They are social realities, implying a historical liberation. A poorly understood spiritualization has often made us forget the human consequences of the eschatological promises and the power to transform unjust social structures which they imply. The elimination of misery and exploitation is a sign of the coming of the Kingdom. It will become a reality, according to the Book of Isaiah, when there is happiness and rejoicing among the people because “men shall build houses and live to inhabit them, plant vineyards and eat their fruit; they shall not build for others to inhabit nor plant for others to eat…My chosen shall enjoy the fruit of their labor” (65:21-22) because they fruit of their labor will not be taken from them. The struggle for a just world in which there is no oppression, servitude, or alienated work will signify the coming of the Kingdom. The Kingdom and social injustice are incompatible (cf. Isa. 29:18-19 and Matt. 11:5; Lev. 25:10ff. and Luke 4:16-21). “The struggle for justice,” rightly asserts Dom Antonio Fragoso, “is also the struggle for the Kingdom of God.”
Wow. This whole passage stopped me short in my reading (you can see, in the picture, I underlined the entire paragraph.) What an amazingly well-worded defense of the need for social justice! Without it, without the betterment of the world and our fellow humans, God’s Kingdom is not possible. It’s not just God’s duty to bring it; it is ours as well.