Justice

Before going through the Morning Service this morning, I read a small sermon based on Matthew 5.43-48. A coworker asked the priest what it meant to be an American. After much thought and detail the priest made this statement,
Justice in never motivated by hatred or fear, but hope...To be an American is not to be motivated by fear, but hope; to be an American is to be hopeful.

This statement started me thinking about the 'justice' system here in the States. It seems to me that American justice is not based on hope. Our justice is based on revenge. Our justice is based on punishment. We are quick to point to what is known as the Law of Hammurabi, 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth', and we base our 'justice' system on that. But Jesus calls us -- his followers; family members in good standing -- to follow a different Law. What Jesus said in Matthew 5.43-48 sets the Law of Hammurabi on its head. He said:
You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Why would we want to do this -- love our enemies? It is because we have hope. We believe, we trust, that YHWH is going to bring them out the other side as better people. We see past the pain and hurt -- yes, past the injustice -- to what will be. We see people in general, and those who have hurt us specifically, as future family members in good standing in YHWH's New Creation. That is our hope. If we based our justice off of this, I think things would be better.

And not only for our justice system but for our whole way of life. If we looked at people in the face and saw them as people whom YHWH loves, we might start actually making a bigger difference here and now in the lives of 'our enemies' -- in the lives of those different from us.

Furthermore, if we looked at creation as something that is 'very good' and part of the whole reconciliation of YHWH's love, we might start treating it better. We might start realizing that what we do helps further grow the New Creation now and here.

There are a couple of prayers in the Book of Common Prayer that are tremendously helpful for me in this. I quote them here for your consideration and joy.
For Our Enemies:
God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Conservation of Natural Recources:
Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.

+OD

Comments

Theoblogian said…
Thanks OD...i always appreciate reading thoughtful comments on justice and faith, and you, as usual, are here as thoughtful as ever. thanks again.
mike (thegreatswalmi)
Odysseus said…
This post has been removed by the author.
Odysseus said…
You're welcome swalmi! And thank you for the kind words.

+OD

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