Transparency and Due Process

 

JUSTICE CHRISTIANUS

ELEVENTH DAY OF LENT

While Jesus was still speaking to the four disciples in the garden, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss Him; but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” When those who were around Him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.  – Luke 22:47-51

The injustice carried out by Judas goes by the name of “treachery”; the injustice carried out by Peter goes by the name of “violence”.  And in the Justice Christianus “treachery” is replaced with “transparency”, “violence” is replaced with “due process”.

Adam and Eve hid in the garden lest the Lord make known their guilt.  If they had not hidden, I sense that mercy would have mediated their punishment of exile from the garden for the first question asked by the Lord was not, “What have you done?” but rather “Why were you hiding?”  I personally think the course of the story would be more about God revealing the nature of conscience and guilt than about the Fall.

Cain slew Abel.  In the Biblical story, the introduction of humanity’s problem with violence and vengeance which in turn provokes more violence, the first question asked by the Lord was not “What have you done, Cain?” but rather “Where is your brother, Abel?”  If Cain would have directed his frustration with his feelings of failure and rejection with the Lord Himself, Cain might have gained a greater self-awareness.  Through his prayerful conversation with God Cain would have found a just satisfaction of his grievance through due process.  But instead … Cain resorted to violence to satisfy his wounded pride.

Transparency and due process … are both necessary in Christian justice.  In our relationship with God, we confess and repent.  In our relationship with others, we seek mercy and reconcile.  Though the world in its instinctive reasoning gives license to treachery and violence; not so in the “Justice Christianus”.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

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We Ourselves Are the Penitents

 

JUSTICE CHRISTIANUS

Tenth Day of Lent

[Jesus then continued with His teaching …] “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in another person’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to another person, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of another person’s eye.”.                     – Matthew 7:1-5

In “Justice Christianus” we are not to sit where the judge does sit, but rather to kneel where the penitent does kneel.  We are not the executioners, we are the counselors.

We are called to confession.  We are called to seek clear vision, to see through unprejudiced eyes, to see through eyes not clouded with smoke of vengeance and vindictiveness, to see through eyes half-blinded by our own sins.  Fair justice is dependent upon clear vision as to what true and what is false.  Fair justice is not determined by fear or selfish motive, but by an honest and unfiltered beholding of the reality before us.

Yet the so-called justice of this world is too often carried out through blurred and distorted vision.  Prejudice (pre-judging),  political loyalties, tribal mentality, limited experience, insufficient knowledge, fostered fears, festering resentments are among those blinding specks that turn justice into injustice.  But in the “Justice Christianus” the eyes of justice must be cleansed and pure.

The judges in the Sanhedrin were blinded by fear, pride, self-righteousness, defensiveness and political intrigue.  The judgment by King Herod was blinded by self-interest, haunting guilt, indifference, and political interests.  The judgment by Pontius Pilate was blinded by political ambition, frustration with the crowds, a willingness to be swayed to pacify the mob.  The judgment by the passers-by who mocked Christ as He suffered on the cross, they were blinded by the cynicism of the times and their ignorance.

Lent is a time to remember that confession is both good for the soul and for the well-being of the community.  Lent is a time for the washing of eyes of the dust of this world.  Lent is a time to remember that we are called to be humble and holy and not judgmental and self-righteous.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

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The Christian Karma of Covenant Mercy

JUSTICE CHRISTIANUS

Ninth Day of Lent

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:14-15

Some might say this admonition of Christ comes after the Lord’s Prayer, I believe it is instead the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer.  Christ speaks to the justice of mercy that is within the “Justice Christianus”, there exists not only for me but for all.  To ask for forgiveness is to enter into the process of forgiveness, a covenant that God’s mercy and providence is to be shared among us.

I like to refer to this passage and others like it as the principle of Christian karma.  When we begin to judge others then we ourselves are judged; when we take upon ourselves the condemnation of others, we ourselves are condemn; but when we forgive others we ourselves are forgiven.

Justice in the teaching of Christ seeks to restore and rehabilitate, reconcile and recreate by way a mercy that restores all into just and peaceful community, not only me, but also them and the community as a whole.  The justice and mercy I seek I am bound in the Christian covenant to offer the same justice and mercy to others.  To fail to forgive or to refuse to forgive is extracting oneself from this covenant community of merciful justice.

Thus the first prayer is not “Lord forgive me”, but rather, “Lord, help me to forgive others.”

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

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Blessed Justice

 

JUSTICE CHRISTIANUS

Eighth Day of Lent

[And Jesus began to teach them] …“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted; blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth; blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.; blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy; blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God; blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God; blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account; rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:3-12

Whether taken individually or taken collectively, the Beatitudes speak of justice, the “Justice Christianus”.  Somehow and in some way, the present injustice will be reversed by the just actions of God.  But they speak not merely of justice in the hands of God but also the just ways that ought to be the ways of God’s People.

Humility, compassion, gentle manner, desperately seeking the right action, bestowing mercy, working for peace, courage, long-suffering and endurance … these are aspects of the “Justice Christianus”, a justice that goes counter to the justice as defined by the world.

All injustice will be dealt with either in this present moment, or soon to arrive moment, or in a moment awaits in the distance.  But injustice will be rectified and the people will be reconciled with God and others.  The intention of God will be finally achieved and fulfilled.

But alas we still live in a world of injustice, but the vector of our course is pointed toward justice realized.  So we do the just action in the just manner in the meantime, allowing the Lord to slowly transform this world through our just manner and just hope.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

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BY WAY OF THE POWER OF FOREVER

 

JUSTICE CHRISTIANUS

Seventh Day of Lent

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’”  And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to His chosen ones who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long in helping them? I tell you, He will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” – Luke 18:1-8

“Justice Christianus” is a justice often slowly achieved and faith is the endurance to press on till it is achieved.  Justice will one day assuredly be accomplished, yet those who pursue justice must persevere.

Our faith in the justice of God is much like a dream of peace sitting in the shade of spreading oak trees.  We plant an acorn in hope of an oak tree; and the oak tree will come … but it will take a while.  Are we merely waiting for that oak tree?  No, we are instead expectantly awaiting that oak tree.  Often we now sit under oak trees of justice planted by a hopeful, faithful person; and we pray that others will sit under oak trees of justice we have planted in our time.

We so often demand justice, and demand we ought.  But too often, in our impatience, we settle for a partial justice that is still in need of maturity.  Change comes slowly, but the work of change begins immediately.

“Justice Christianus” is accomplished through the power of faithful perseverance, allowing the eternal power of the day-after-day resolve to transform this world.  “Justice Christianus” is not accomplished by one moment of prayer, but through days and years even generations of prayer.  But the praying for justice, the working for justice, the seeking of justice is always an immediate task.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

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BEFORE EVER A TRIAL

 

JUSTICE CHRISTIANUS

Sixth Day of Lent

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?  Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, for you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison.  I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.” – Luke 12:57-59

In “Justice Christianus” is better that settle a case out of court for it is not the judgment and sentencing which is the ultimate concern but the resolution, the restitution, and the reconciliation.

I find we live in a world obsessed with punitive justice.  It is as if we relish the act of punishing others.  Though this harsh, punitive stand is for the purpose of deterrence, I find the world is no more just because of it.  Little is resolved, few are reconciled, and the repentance is but occasionally accomplished.  But still … we foolishly believe … that in the punishment full justice is achieved.   No, in the jurisprudence of “Justice Christianus” the matters of resolution, restitution, and reconciliation are paramount.

Mercy is not the opposite of justice, but rather mercy is an agency of perfect justice.  Mercy seeks to deal with the transgression without destroying the transgressor.  Mercy seeks to be the means by which the reconciling and restoring elements of justice can be achieved.  Merciful justice is the moving beyond mere punishment into the further realm of repentance.

To settle a case is to reach a just resolution before judgment day.  We understand this in our spiritual practice of confession and repentance prior to Judgment Day.  The sense of Divine Justice is not at its heart to punish, but rather to make right.  This is what makes Divine Justice and “Justice Christianus” righteous … it makes things right.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

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JUSTICE FOR ALL

 

JUSTICE CHRISTIANUS

Fifth Day of Lent

When Jesus became aware of the treachery of the Pharisees, He departed. Many crowds followed Him, and He cured all of them,  and He ordered them not to make Him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory.  And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”  – Matthew 12:15-21

To proclaim justice to the Gentiles, those others than merely ourselves, and to bring justice to victory, such was the mission of Christ in the understanding of “Justice Christianus”.  But this victorious justice is accomplished by a quality of spirit that seeks to heal all of the people and do so without bruising a reed of grass or dowsing a smoldering wick of a candle.  Justice not done with malice and vengeance but rather patiently in due process.

I cannot bring to mind an occasion when vengeance or vindictiveness was evident in Christ.   He did protest in the Temple and He did curse a fig tree, probably as an object lesson for His disciples.  But He did advocate a turning of the other cheek in an act of patient resolve.  He did advocate making settlement rather than risk the severity of the courts.  But vengeance performed by mortal souls?  No.  Vindictiveness brooding in a mortal soul?  No.

Does this mean that we give a free rein to injustice or surrender to a fate of never challenged injustice?  No.  We confront injustice; we challenge injustice; we endure injustice until the power of patience gains its ultimate victory; we appeal to conscience and the Lord’s commands.

Loved Ones, history is a legacy of justice trying to gain victory over injustice.  An aspect of our fallen nature is this legacy of injustice; however, an aspect of the Divine image placed within us is the power of conscience inspired.  Injustice is still with us but in the midst of it are souls who like Christ call for Justice not only for ourselves but for all others as well.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

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PROVIDENTIAL JUSTICE

 

JUSTICE CHRISTIANUS

THE FOURTH DAY OF LENT

March 9, 2019

[Jesus said] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.  – Matthew 7:43-45

“Justice Christianus” is an even-handed justice which shows no preferential treatment to certain persons but rather providentially to all persons.  And with this we learn that Christian justice is an aspect of God’s Providence.  As much as air and water, sunshine and soil, justice is provided to one and to all, and never to these and not those.  We need justice for both an individual and a community to endure.

“Justice Christianus” is never prejudice as to who stands before courts of justice, choosing not to prejudge because of the past, but to judge fairly in the case before it.  Justice is a right of humanity bestowed upon us by the One who has created us.

Too often worldly justice is applied selectively and quite often, for political purposes.  These rules apply to this ethnic group or to this particular gender or to this social strata … so often this is the manipulation of justice to serve unjust purposes.

Who merits a fair hearing?  We all do.  Who has need for mercy?  We all do.   Upon whom does God’s Providence fall, the rain and the sunshine?  The righteous and the unrighteous, the good and the evil, every one of us and all of us.

Equal and equitable justice along with equal and equitable mercy  is an aspect of the Providential Realm of God.  And thus … in Christ … we are stewards of such a quality of justice with mercy.

Always in Christ’s Service,

j. e. mcwhinnie

 

 

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STANDING UP TO INJUSTICE

  THE THIRD DAY OF LENT Friday, March 8th, 2019 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am … Continue reading

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JUSTICE BY WAY OF MERCY

 

JUSTICE CHRISTIANUS

The Second Day of Lent

3/7/2019

Early in the morning Jesus came again to the temple. All the people came to Him and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again He bent down and wrote on the ground.  When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.” And  Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” –  John 8:2-11

A woman is caught in the act of adultery and is used as a pawn in a religious test.  The “Biblicists” (the scribes) and the Traditionalists (the Pharisees) wanted to get this popular Rabbi on the record.  Did He believe in keeping the Law?  Was He committed to the scriptures?  Was He “biblical”?  Was He for “law and order”?  Was he a heretic or a hypocrite?

I believe that these inquisitors of Christ had no intention of stoning that woman.  Rather they shamefully used her to find reason to declare Christ a dangerous radical.  After Christ gave His answer … they simply walked away … caught in their own trap.

The point of justice in this display of shameful intrigue and exploitation only behalf of the religious leaders is in the words He spoke to the woman.  “I do not condemn you, you are forgiven, and being forgiven you must change your ways, never to sin again.”  And though she probably almost assuredly sinned in some manner in the days and years ahead … she now had learned the process of “Justice Christianus”.

“Justice Christianus” seeks to restore and provide a fresh start for the transgressor.  It is  a means to change one’s course through self-awareness of need and the cleansing power of Mercy.  “Justice Christianus” is not about “law-and-punishment” but about “law-and-redirection”.  It is penitential not for the purpose of punishment, it is penitential for the purpose of beginning anew.

The scribes and the Pharisees were correct in this statue of stoning adulterers, yet also incorrect.  Where was the man?  He too, by the Law, was to be stoned.  But the keeping of that law of stoning adulteries was nowhere found in the just thinking of their accusations.  No, the woman was of no matter to them.  But to Christ … she truly mattered.  He saw her as a woman who was in need of saving not stoning.  They offered her no justice, not even in a punitive way.  They instead treated her unjustly by their exploitation of her situation.  But Christ … she was a woman who could use a fresh start in hope of a better life.

Even today we have our “Biblicists” and our “Traditionalists” who selectively choose their punitive statutes and put other Christians to the test.  Do they believe in the Bible or not?  Are they heretics?  Are they not for “law-and-order”?  My answer to them is Christ and His justice by way of a Mercy that bestows new Hope.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

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