This past Sunday evening, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a little over an hour with our 9th grade Confirmation students at our annual “Pasta with the Pastor” evening. It is an opportunity for the confirmandi to get to know me and to discuss the priesthood. It is always an event that I look forward to since promoting vocations is an essential responsibility of the parish priest. This year, several of the questions that I received were unlike questions I had received in years past. The confirmandi inquired about what I would do if I weren’t a priest. I told them that if I had not become an ordained priest, I would be a lawyer. Of course, the next question was, why? I had anticipated that question and was ready with the answer. I have always had a profound appreciation for the law. Laws are in place to ensure justice is served in a particular community. As a Canon Lawyer for the Catholic Church, it is my responsibility to ensure that the laws which govern the Church and her Faithful are followed. Lawyers are supposed to be the mouthpieces of the marginalized and for those who have no voice of their own. Of course, there is a whole other side to lawyers that sometimes tends to forget about justice but I think that we’ll skip that part for the sake of keeping the peace. The First Reading that we hear proclaimed this 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time talks about the type of justice I am talking about. It is fairly brief so I will reprint it here. Thus says the LORD:
“You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans. “If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people,
you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him.
If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.” (Ex 22: 20-26) There are people in our community who need a voice so that they can be heard. Perhaps we can be attentive to the needs of those around us so that justice will the reality for those in need.