Justice: Human and Divine Some


Justice: Human and Divine

Some have commented on mercy and justice and on God's justice. I will not presume to say that they are wrong in their contention that "an all-merciful God is not a just God." Of this, I can say little or nothing. However, I think Jesus has some guidelines for our thinking about justice in the form of a parable.

from Matthew 20:1-16 1 "The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 Going out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.' 5 So they went off. (And) he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise. 6 Going out about five o'clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' 7 They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.' 8 When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.' 9 When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage. 10 So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, 'These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat.' 13 He said to one of them in reply, 'My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? 15 (Or) am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?' 16 Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Fallen humans can have only the most general sense of justice--the justice of concupiscence, of greed, of pride.

In thinking about the attributes of God, I find it better to focus on the continual images we are given of Father, sometimes even of mother (Psalm 131), and of Him who against all justice stretched out his arms on the cross and died. In that action, justice was redefined--if we had ever had a sense of it--that sense must have changed. And today I know that "I see now through a glass darkly."

It is better to leave to God what He can and cannot do and to confine myself to praying, fasting, hoping, and adoring. My hope is not in justice but in mercy, I certainly do not wish to get what I deserve.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 27, 2003 7:48 AM.

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