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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

Gallery | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OUT OF A CRUEL INJUSTICE

 

JUSTICE CHRISTIANUS

FIRST DAY OF LENT

3/6/2019

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:24

In the midst of a cruel injustice, in a place where the executioners killed an innocent man, in a time when truth was of no matter, Christ bestows forgiveness on “them”. But who are the these whom Christ forgives?  The Roman soldiers who were only following orders?  The mocking passers-by that were blinded by the lies?  The clergy and political leaders that thought their ends justified their means?  The holy “devout” who were concerned about other matters?  The power that corrupts?  The societal indifference?  The fallen nature of humanity?

Justice is defined in many ways and each way has its nuance.  Retributive justice that seeks to punish those who have done wrong; procedural justice that attempts to assure that just processes are followed to achieve an impartial decision; restorative justice that seeks to bring back into “rightness” the consequences of a harmful act; distributive justice that insures a rightful and fair share of the common wealth.   But during this Lenten season I offer another definition of justice, “Justice Christianus”, the new form of justice to be practiced in the New Realm of God.

“Justice Christianus” is both restorative and redemptive.  “Justice Christianus” is both providential and distributive.  “Justice Christianus” is both merciful and transformative. “Justice Christianus” involves the processes of conscience, consciousness and conviction, the processes of confession, repentance, and forgiveness; the processes of new beginnings and hopeful ends, resurrection and sanctification.

Being ever mindful of the injustice inflicted upon Christ, we will deeply contemplative how by the God’s transformative power that this cruel injustice became a means of a new form of justice, a Divine justice that seeks to save the world and not condemn it.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

REPENTANCE IN WAYS UNMENTIONED

DAILY DEVOTIONAL

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Christ head{Jesus said to His disciples before sending them out on their missions) “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” – Luke 10:13-16

Hard words spoken by Christ, stern warning to the towns to where His disciples would be bringing His message of a New Realm of understanding, a realm of mercy, grace, and authentic love.  So resistant to change, even when the change is one brought forth by the Lord in the fullness of Time, these places where rigidity was mistaken for faithfulness.

Hundreds of times, I reckon, I have heard righteous voices warn the times in these places that unless the nation repent, all will be lost.  The problem I have with such self-designated prophets is that the sins needing repentance are usually of a sexual concern.  Seldom do I hear them speak of such concerns as greed, prejudice, self-indulgence, indifference to the needs of the poor, injustice, cold-hearted-ness, trusting in the security of Caesar’s might, the devotion to the god Money rather than to the God who provides so we might share.  No, it is usually about concerns sexual, often described in lurid detail.  Sometimes these prophets seemed obsessed with the sins they condemn.

But what was cause of these town placing themselves at risk?  By rejecting Christ and the message Christ Himself did bring.

Oddly, rather paradoxically, in our present times … the very words of Christ, His teaching, His commands, His example, His stories … are not the focus of certain expressions of Christianity.  No … it is focused instead on a doctrinal conformity and on a selection of moral rules, and faintly with lip service, the words of His message and the mission of His Life.

Loved Ones, we all need to repent, to change the course of our lives and the course of our human history … but in ways about which few seem concerned.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WE ARE PEOPLE WHO CARRY CROSSES

 

DAILY DEVOTIONAL

Monday, March 4, 2019

Jesus sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Then He said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? – Luke 9:21-25

Simon of Cyrene

“To be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes”, this experience I have known.  Rejection by itself does make one right by merely the experience of being rejected, but rather to be rejected for doing what God requires of you.  Why was Jesus rejected?  He spoke a new way of understanding  that would supplant the former understanding and He called for an authentic enlightenment of spirit and conscience.  He was rejected for calling for authenticity in a world of hypocrisy; He was rejected for making merciful grace a priority over law and punishment; He was rejected for demanding compassion to replace indifference and self-interest.

Too often I hear a certain breed of Christianity that seem to brandish the cross rather than carrying the cross.  They use the cross as a psychological spear.  They use the cross for the purpose of fending off sinners and witches according to their own designation.  They use the cross not in the manner of humility but in the manner of declaring “I have got it, and you do not!”

Too many, though they rationalize not to be applicable to themselves, who are going after the worldly rewards,  Money, fame, even power and prestige, these rewards they seek while slowly, often imperceptibly, they let their soulfulness slip away.  Even my own life has been tempted this way.

As we near the season of Lent … may we remember that we are people who carry crosses … we are people who love and serve in our humble ways.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

TO BE FREE FROM THE LAW THAT WE HABITUALLY CREATE

DAILY DEVOTIONAL

Sunday March 3, 2019

cHRIST TEACHING PARABLES

Then His disciples asked Him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the realm of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’ – Luke 8:9-10

Such an intriguing comment made by Christ to His disciples, almost counter-intuitive, somehow out of character for Christ.  Like that mysterious instruction not to cast your pearls before swine, this passage is remarkable in its stridency.  And so over and over … the Lord and I have talked over this passage.  Is this the statement of a principle, Lord; or is it a bit of practical advice.

Some people feel the need to codify all teaching, make it law, make it a clearly stated rule.  Personally and professionally, I think taught now in terms of laws and rules, but rather in terms of principles and commands quite often the form of teaching stories.  Stories have such a deeper depth-of-field than does a maxim or a declarative statement.  Within the teaching story there is a dimension of the human story, a dimension that communicates more than can be included in a rule.  Truth told within a story is an invitation into a greater mystery, a mystery that keeps revealing.  Christ’s teaching stories are not like Aesop’s fables where at the end is pasted the meaning of the story.  No, in Christ’s teachings the meaning lives within the story itself.  And in the retelling of a parable and in the hearing once again a parable, the meaning within becomes all the more.  That is … if you do not snatch the story from Christ’s voice and turn it into mere, cold law encased forever in a former interpretation.

If I could for a moment dare to put words in Christ’s mount … it is as if Christ were counseling His disciples … “teach them the stories lest they too quickly make final conclusions.”

I am always stunned by people who claim that Christ set them free from the shackles of the Old Testament Law and its questionable corollaries … and turn right around and make New Testament Law out of attempts to bring the spirit of Christ to the cultures of this world.  We were not called to legislate more entangling, controlling, enslaving Law … but rather to bring to life the stories that Christ did give us.  We are called to fulfill but two commandment … Love God with everything within you … and … Love others as you would love your own self.  Upon these Laws all else is but the story of Christ living on.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CHRIST’S COMPASSIONATE HEART

DAILY DEVOTIONAL

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Soon afterwards Jesus went to a town called Nain, and His disciples and a large crowd went with Him.  As He approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized the people in the crowd; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about Him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country. – Luke 7:11-17

Christ and Nain

Through the years of my pastoral service, I experienced what Jesus experienced here at Nain.  When I saw a family member weeping, a rush of compassion overwhelmed me.  As if by instinct, without much thought given to it, I would embrace the family.  And when it was time to conduct the funeral, again by instinct, I would then pause and touch the casket.  I don’t know why.  Possibly to take away a bit of the fear of death, possibly to exemplify steady courage to the family, trying to encourage them, possibly to allow my compassion its yearning to touch.

The life of Christ was marked by compassion.  And then I would assume, those of us who believe that Christ lives within us and through us ought also to be marked by compassion.  Yet, I have experienced some declared Christians who feel not compassionate much at all.  And I find … I have compassion for persons such as them.

Loved Ones, if a doctrine or a dogma or a cause diminishes your Christ-like compassion … it is time to kneel in prayer.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment