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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Are you quick to resort to justice? Have you ever considered trying the difficult but sanctifying demands of love? - Daily Reflections September 6, 2016


OF JUSTICE AND LOVE
 
Paul in today’s First Reading delivers a scathing criticism to his community in Corinth. He is angry. After hearing that the Christian brothers were suing one another in public courts, Paul was scandalized that the brothers turn immediately to legal means instead of settling disputes in the spirit of charity.
       In Greece of Paul’s time, court hearings were held in public. Hurling at one another in court undoubtedly compromises the Christian community that is supposed to be a community ruled by charity.
       There is really nothing wrong with a community ruled by justice, but it will be terribly wanting. As a principle, we know that justice is the minimum of love. But love is the perfection of justice. And if the Christian community is called to perfection, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), then charity must be the first option for conflict resolution. Charity should be the primary way for believers: “If you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? (v.4-5). For Paul, immediate resolve through legal means is an indication of an unwillingness to practice the virtues: understanding, forgiveness, patience and sacrifice for the sake of the other. The Christian community is supposed to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (see 1 Peter 2:9). Conflict resolution therefore must be marked by sanctity, which is the mark of a believing community.
     Justice is founded on arithmetic equality. But certain situations demand going beyond the strict requirements of justice. When a mother distributes food among her children, for example, justice demands that everybody gets the same. But when one of the children is frail, doesn’t he usually get the better portion? On the outside it seems unfair, but really it isn’t. When love permeates justice, arithmetic equality becomes proportionate equality. In such a situation, love has just perfected justice. Fr. Joel Jason
 
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Are you quick to resort to justice? Have you ever considered trying the difficult but sanctifying demands of love?
 
You have created us out of love, O Lord. Help us to live by the same love. Amen.

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