We believe in a God in whom “justice and mercy meet.” Our God cares about the plight of the downtrodden (mercy), but also does something about their condition (justice), giving food to the hungry and sight to the blind, setting captives free, protecting strangers, and sustaining the fatherless and the widow.
The prophet Isaiah foretells the coming of salvation that will involve opening the eyes of the blind, clearing the ears of the deaf, and even brightening up the environment. Mark presents Jesus as the kind of savior prophesied by Isaiah, one who “makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Those of us who have a calling from the God of Jacob to be followers of Jesus must combine concern for the downtrodden (mercy) with action on their behalf (justice). We must reject the religion of favoritism for the rich, and imitate God who “chose those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and secures justice for the oppressed.” We must combine preaching the Good News of the Kingdom with healing the sick. This is the way to offer “true worship” to the “God of peace and love.”
It is not simply a question of eliminating hunger and reducing poverty. It is not enough to combat destitution, urgent and necessary as this is. The point at issue is the establishment of a human society in which everyone, regardless of race, religion, or nationality, can live a truly human life free from bondage imposed by men and the forces of nature not sufficiently mastered, a society in which freedom is not an empty word, and where Lazarus the poor man can sit at the same table as the rich man.
Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 1967:47