by Denise Oliveira
4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help!
whose hope is in the LORD their God;
5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
who keeps his promise for ever;
6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed,
and food to those who hunger.
Psalms sometimes make me feel happy and full of joy and faith, but sometimes they make me really mad. How can we sing praises to a God “who gives justice to those who are oppressed,” when we are surrounded by so much inequality and injustice?
Just this morning I read that the New York City Housing Authority has finally recognized that there is excessive mold in much of the City’s public housing, and it promised to do something about it. This, after residents and advocates complained for many, many years. It took a lawsuit to get the City to say that it will do the right thing.
Throughout the country, children and adults living in inadequate public housing suffer a higher percentage of asthma and other diseases than the larger population. Excessive mold is a huge culprit in high-density housing that is inadequately maintained.
My hope is that Psalms such as this one will not lead us into blissful complacency, but rather serve as a reminder that we here on Earth, right now, have much work to do to bring justice to the oppressed.
As we approach the end of Advent and experience once again the birth of Jesus, may we be reminded of the gifts we’ve been given, including our voices, to speak up for justice and equality.
Denise is lawyer and journalist in Brooklyn, NY, where she attends St. Lydia’s Dinner Church. She is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is excited about her upcoming wedding to Jeremy Sierra.