FINDING THE SPIRIT OF JUSTICE AT WORK EVERY DAY
Anyone who has spent any time within the criminal justice system in the United States will tell you it is far from perfect. Victims are often treated as if they are guilty of something Dangerous criminals are sometimes released back on the streets because a system overburdened in its policing, judicial and correctional functions has to relieve itself somehow. Costs are escalating dramatically. New laws are passed and old ones now carry tougher sentences, yet the crime rate increased. We all know the criminal justice system does not address the root causes of crime, such as poverty, unemployment, family breakdown, alienation from society, and lack of hope.
Despite all this, we claim it is the best criminal justice system in the world, at least insofar as it protects individual liberties. Where then does one look for divine justice in this human miasma? What does justice mean? As part of our basic claim that law is best explained by its experience, justice, as the consequence of law, has many meanings. Among them are the right to vote and hold office, equal access to the courts, equal treatment under the law. Those are obvious. But justice means a great deal more than that. Justice requires honesty and fairness and concern for the common good. As a practical matter then, justice is experienced in the form of fair wages, a clean environment, a good education, a healthy food supply, the availability of health care, the ability to secure a home and a job, and in countless other daily concerns. Look at any society where people are deprived of these basic expressions of justice, and you will find that there is no balance of freedom under the law.
To whatever extent we can prevent some people from denying other people their share of the bounties of Mother Earth and our society. We have truly promoted justice. Human institutions are the only means we have of effecting God's purposes in this world. We are, after all, only a small cog in one such institution. We must avoid the pitfall of equating a human system of criminal justice with divine justice. The compassionate and omniscient God has a unique agenda of lessons for us to learn, and this life is our classroom. Who is to say if divine justice is served to a greater or lesser extent by the conviction or acquittal of a defendant in a given case? We cannot presume to supplant God's justice with my sense of right and wrong, or even with society's as it is defined by a humanly enacted penal code. What God has in mind for the victim, witnesses, attorneys and defendant in a given criminal case is for God alone to know.
Salvation from frustration comes from doing our best. By trusting in divine compassion and justice, We can accept whatever result comes from a case. We can believe and trust that even if my human sense of justice goes unfulfilled, divine justice may not. When we make this act of faith, we let God control our work, and any human trust rations cannot long endure.
Each of us, in our employment and personal lives, is called upon to reenact Calvary and set aside personal desires and needs for the love of others and the service of God through spreading compassion and justice. Each of us must become willing to play our part even if we do not know the entire story line, and know we will never reach the final scene. This can come only through trust in God and acceptance of divine will.
It is not easy. It is sacrificing unto the death of all human perspectives. It is going to our crucifixion. But it brings its own resurrection, a new life. The burdens at work and home, once surrendered to God, become the pathway to the acceptance of our role, and therefore the empowerment, willingly, and with trust in God, to play our part in the divine plan to promote justice.
The example of Christ suffering and drying on the cross comes full circle. We are shown the fullness of sacrifice. We are shown the path to personal salvation. We are shown how to participate in divine justice.
We can celebrate the Crucifixion every day.
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