FOURTEENTH DAY OF LENT
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9
In our western jurisprudence we find traces of the relationship between justice and peace. At times, we refer to the Justice-of-the-Peace. Law enforcement officers have on occasion been referred to as keepers-of-the-peace and as peace officers. Yet, I think most people think of justice in terms of punishment and law enforcement as gun-toting officials with snarling dogs. And indeed it is true … the justice of this world has been intertwined with violence, or at least, when it comes to street crime. Handcuffs and night sticks, iron bars and razor wire, a few of the instruments of justice, at least, the justice of this world trying to manage its own evil.
In contrast, the “Justice Christianus” is all about restoring the peace, making the peace, sustaining the peace, forging the peace. The primary source of this is Jesus’ seemingly absurd counsel to His people in respect to the Roman occupation forces. “When they slap you on one cheek, turn to them the other cheek.” Not an act of surrender but rather an act of courageous passive-resistance. “When they demand your cloak, give them your coat as well.” Not an act of submission but rather an act of rising above the situation by what of generosity. “When they press you into service to carry their burdens for a mile, offer to carry it two.” Not an acceptance of being enslaved but a declaration of dignity to instead to be of service.
Near the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus wept at the walls of Jerusalem. “O my Jerusalem, if only you would have listened to the ways that would work for peace.” He knew. He could read the times. He could see the rising militancy among the people. They would resort to swords to save them … but it only led them to total destruction at the boots of Roman soldiers.
“Justice Christianus” is always seeking to make the Peace, not by surrender but by perseverance and endurance. Eventually, justice will work its will and the peace will be restored. Yet, even among many Christians … they crusade in a warlike way … with violence in their rhetoric that over time becomes violence in their ways.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz