Saturday of the Fourth Week
Consider the Old Testament understanding of justice from Jeremiah: “Let me witness the vengeance You take on them, for to You I have entrusted my cause!” Reading a bit further, we see that the justice for his laments that Jeremiah wants to see consists of young men dying by the sword and their children dying of starvation. Do you find yourself horrified by this idea of justice? If so, that reaction is one of the great gifts of Christ to us.
Consider how Christ matured our understanding of justice, and hence of the true nature of God. He did this through the way He fulfilled the Old Testament in bringing justice to the world. Look to His ministries: In Mark 1:15, Christ’s “thesis statement” for His message is “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
Christ’s first care is to reach out to the unjust themselves, entreating them to repent and follow the word of God, thus becoming just. Instead of gratifying the thirst for vengeance by punishing wrong-doers, Jesus immediately seeks to heal the sinners, the wrong-doers themselves. In a culture where misfortune was equated with punishment for sin, it is deeply significant that the first acts of Jesus’ ministry presented in Mark’s Gospel are a long list of healings. Thus, Christ brings justice by healing the unjust. Furthermore, Jesus brings healing for the wronged by advocating and exemplifying forgiveness. Vengeance doesn’t heal. Forgiveness heals.
Thus, the justice of Christ, of the God of the New Testament in fulfillment of the Old, is reconciliation, redemption, and reformation on the part of the wrong-doer, and forgiveness, healing, and wholeness on the part of the wronged. Justice has been revealed by Christ to be not a balancing of scales, but the seeking of wholeness in God. If we are one body in this one Lord, how can we wrong ourselves?
Lord Jesus, deepen our understanding of Your all-encompassing love, and let us each be an instrument of true and healing justice in Your world.
Jo Ellis-Monaghan, Professor of Mathematics
First Reading: Jeremiah 11:18-20
Psalm 7:2-3, 9b-12
Gospel: John 7:40-53
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website