Service, Scripture, and Social Justice

  • Gather either at the service site or at the parish with enough time for an opening prayer and a brief period of reflection (10-15 minutes, max) before you begin. You can do this standing in the parking lot, really! You’ll revisit the readings again after the service component so keep this quick.
  • Opening Prayer: God of Justice and Mercy, you have gathered us together today to love and serve you by loving and serving your people in need. Open our eyes to see you this day in those we serve and in one another. Help us to be Christ for one another, we pray in Jesus name. Amen.
  • Scripture Reflection: If your group is only four or five people you can do the reading and reflection together. If it is larger, split into smaller groups of two, three, or four people. Give each group a copy of one of the readings:
  1. The rich young man — Mark 10:17-25
  2. The final judgment — Matthew 25
  3. Lazarus and the rich man — Luke 16:19-31

Ask them to read it aloud in their group and then have each person share a word or phrase from the reading that stood out for them or seemed important. Invite everyone to carry that Gospel in their heart and mind as they go through the day.

  • Go to your service site, if there is a speaker from the site have them talk to your group before or after your volunteer slot.
  • Serve!
  • Following your service invite participants back into their small groups and ask them to read the same gospel reading they started the day with and then answer three questions:
  1. Is there a word or phrase from the reading that stood out for you or seemed important?
  2. Is there anything that you saw or experienced that surprised or troubled you?
  3. Where did you see God today?

After they’ve had time for discussion, invite everyone to come back together and share in the larger group anything about the day or their small group discussions they would like to. With a quieter group it may be helpful either:

  1. To go around the circle (if the group isn’t too big, no more than 15 people) and ask each person to share their high point and low point of the day and then anything else — observations, questions, something they learned, something they want to do in response to what they saw today; or
  2. Have the small groups report back regarding their discussions. This can be very dynamic, especially if groups have used different Gospel readings.
  • Conclude by reviewing the Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching (see Recommends section) and explaining these seven concepts are what the church teaches about social justice. These same themes arise over and over again in scripture and Church teaching (in doctrine, the Catechism, and Pastoral Letters). Invite participants to react — is there anything among these seven themes that surprises or encourages you?
  • BONUS DISCUSSION: We often talk about the “two feet of social justice” — Action and Advocacy. As a group, discuss what you might do in addition to volunteering at the soup kitchen to affect the societal problems of hunger, homelessness, and poverty.
  • Close by inviting the group to pray together (with a few minutes of silence or aloud) for the people they saw today and end with the Our Father and a Sign of Peace and/or read Luke 10:25-28.