Justice is a concept invoked by many from different perspectives and value sets, and a time or two in song. It its used to both condone and condemn capital punishment, support and revolt against oppression, justify and discredit personal vendettas and conflict. It is used to justify starting wars and killing innocents. What does a harvest of justice look like, as one of our songs asks? How we answer that is vital.
Justice means different things. In American law, it means enforcement of the law: finding guilt and levying punishment, deciding which of two opposing parties will win a lawsuit. There’s a perception that if there’s no penalty, there’s no justice: this is the argument Death Penalty advocates use. It’s also something that happens one moment in time, and once it happens, the story is over. Justice is solely about the letter of the law.
Biblical Justice is about making things right. It’s about what’s good for all, restoring relationships, healing, giving people an equal opportunity as much as possible. It requires an openness to God, and an ability to use Divine guidance in such a way to create a new reality that is both healthy and holy. It is not a justice that gives everything to one side or another, but seeks the common good and respects all, both before and after. Biblical Justice is not about the tolerable impoverishment, starvation or death of anyone. Biblical Justice is ongoing, as the wounds of the world are ongoing.
There are times our justice and Biblical Justice meet, such as when slavery was outlawed, or the Iron Curtain fell. The challenge of Biblical Justice never ends until we all meet the Just Judge at the end of time. We are called to be people of Justice who help restore Creation to what it should be. I believe Gaspar was about this kind of justice as he tried to heal the wounds of Italian society of his time. When we practice and preach Justice in our time, do we truly proclaim ordinary justice, or God’s Harvest of Justice?