“No justice, no peace” is a slogan that’s said to originate in protests of the killing of a Black American in New York City in the 1980s. The slogan is now used in a wide array of protests for all kinds of causes all across the spectrum.
“If you want peace, work for justice” – this statement comes from the hand of Pope Paul VI from fifty years ago, in the annual papal World Day of Peace message. Soon after and for many years, you’d find bumper stickers on the cars of many Catholics with this same message.
The slogan for today’s Scriptures, taken together, for the Second Sunday of Advent could very well be, “Lots of justice, incredible peace.”
Instead of a protest or a teaching, our readings envision and encourage us toward a world of incredible harmony, as the fruit of the rule of a king who comes with justice. From Isaiah, predatory animals will get along together in peace with vulnerable animals and children. Paul anticipates that Jews and Gentiles will be in harmony.
And in the sketch of a single person, John the Baptist, justice and peace are personified. John reflects the fullness of justice. He is in right relationship with God, self and others. He dresses like a prophet and eats in solidarity with the poor. His message is a call to justice. And no surprise that he was successful in bringing people together into that circle of justice and peace.
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” has become a slogan of its own for Advent. When we live it to the full, we find that this is also the formula for a life that is just and abundant in peace. We can see for ourselves what the psalmist proclaims today, «Justice shall flourish in his time, and profound peace till the moon be no more.»