Psalms 50:1-2, 5-6, 14-15
A wonderful field. Planted with wheat. Then, an enemy plants weed seed in the same field. What a great image for our world!
Jesus knows that we have an instinctive sense that wants us to "weed out" those who are different from us. Even those who are "unwanted." I wanted every bully and every kid who didn't play "fair" to be thrown off the playground. I still seems fair, just, necessary to punish or eliminate from society, those who do evil, or those who make our life unbearable. It's for the "common good." It can even lead to the terrible choice of "eliminating" an "unwanted pregnancy." It is what the history of war is all about. It is what capitol punishment desires to do. (Though banned long ago in most of the world, it is still used here in the U.S.)
There is another level of "justice," another broader care for the common good that invites us to consider God's Justice. In that view, the image of the field with weeds falls apart. The world is full of precious creatures, all endowed by God with a dignity that is of ultimate value. At the height of our common commitment is the protection of the dignity of all - the unborn, those born in poverty, those who have "fallen through" society's "cracks." even those who have made really bad choices, even those who express really outrageous ideas, even those who do really horrible things to violate the rights or the life of another.
The only way God could ever ask us to reach for this dream of this kind of justice is by calling us to a number of very important commitments. The only way we can imagine living in a world so "messy" and complex is by imaging a commitment to loving as God does. There is nothing more divine than the ability to forgive a genuine wrong, particularly the more terrible that wrong is. Divine love never gives up on the beloved. God is always, every moment, desiring and working hard to help us be healed of anything that might "twist" us to act against the precious dignity of others. God knows how insecurity, greed, lust and self-interest will always drive divisions into every community. So the Divine Spirit of Justice is always at work to reconcile and build community, protecting the vulnerable and challenging the hearts of the powerful.
Jesus' fervent prayer to his Father, "May they be one," was not naive. He knew, as Paul would later say, that God would deal with sin "by nailing it to a tree." This is what it means that "he died for our sins." The price, the penalty, the "justice" demanded for the terrible sins that would ever be committed was "paid in full" by his death on the cross.
Yes, the common good still demands that our playgrounds be protected
from bullies and that criminals who violate the rights of others be taken
out of society. It is difficult to imagine how we will ever get to
a society that will heal bullies, by helping them feel secure, and or the
steps we must take to a world so just that terrible poverty won't breed
so much crime and violence, or the need for revolution and war. But
today, it is wonderful to long for God's justice, and pray that it might
begin with me. And, it is healing for my heart to imagine that day
when the Master of the Harvest will do the ultimate accounting that brings
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