God is known through justice, as the prophets make plain. Micah develops this theme, reminding the people of his time (and contemporary readers) that they are distant from God if they persist in injustice. Nevertheless, God desires the people to return to right relationship with him and one another and so he meets them where they are:
For see, the LORD comes forth from his place, he descends and treads upon the heights of the earth.
The mountains melt under him and the valleys split open, Like wax before the fire, like water poured down a slope. (Micah 1:3-4)
Micah communicates God’s disdain for their social inequities as the rich and powerful exploit the weak:
Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work out evil on their couches; In the morning light they accomplish it when it lies within their power.
They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and they take them; They cheat an owner of his house, a man of his inheritance. (Micah 2:1-2)
Throughout the text, Micah warns his audience about the destruction that God will wreak if they do not amend their ways. But all is not lost as God wishes to restore right relationship between the people and their God, which is predicated upon the restoration of right relationship among the people themselves. The “many nations” return to God, listen, and “walk in his paths.” They disdain other gods to “walk in the name of the LORD, our God, forever and ever.” (Micah 4:2, 5)
He shall judge between many peoples and impose terms on strong and distant nations; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. (Micah 4:3)
Economic justice is restored:
Every man shall sit under his own vine or under his own fig tree, undisturbed; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. (Micah 4:4)
God places the marginalized at the center:
On that day, says the LORD, I will gather the lame, And I will assemble the outcasts, and those whom I have afflicted.
I will make of the lame a remnant, and of those driven far off a strong nation; And the LORD shall be king over them on Mount Zion, from now on forever. (Micah 4: 2-7)
Unexpectedly, the weak and the powerless become a mighty nation. Social inequality destroys community life. The principle of “solidarity” calls on each of us to recognize the inter-connectedness of all people, whatever their social location. The principle of “solidarity” challenges those in places of power and privilege to hear the wisdom of those who are marginalized, welcoming them into the conversation, so that economic justice and peace might reign.
Posted by: N. Rademacher, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies
Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.