Saint Jerome, a 4th-century priest, said:
“Someone may ask, ‘How is justice greater than all the other virtues?’ The other virtues gratify the one who possesses them; justice does not give pleasure to the one possessing it, but instead pleases others.”
You visit the earth and make it abundant, enriching it greatly by God’s stream, full of water. You provide people with grain because that is what you’ve decided. Drenching the earth’s furrows, leveling its ridges, you soften it with rain showers; you bless its growth. You crown the year with your goodness; your paths overflow with rich food. Even the desert pastures drip with it, and the hills are dressed in pure joy. The meadowlands are covered with flocks, the valleys decked out in grain— they shout for joy; they break out in song!
When I was a child, justice meant that everyone got an equal piece. If there was one last slice of cake we split it three ways between me and my sisters, and the one who cut it got the last choice.
It sounds insignificant now. Justice is about far more important matters than chocolate cake! Yet it is important for me to remember that my idea of justice was born in a context of scarcity. There wasn’t enough for everyone, and if there was a slightly larger piece of cake, I probably would have taken it.
But God’s justice – God’s all-encompassing justice – doesn’t come from a place of scarcity. God’s justice points towards a world of abundance, in which there is more than enough for everyone. A world like the psalmist describes in our reading today.
God’s justice isn’t selfish. It is selfless. Let us live as if there is enough of God’s grace, mercy, and love for everyone – because there is.
Heidi Thorsen Oxford
God of abundance, justice is about so much more than getting my fair share. Help me to make this world a better place today – not just better for myself, but better for all people and all of creation. Amen.
The present form of the world passes away, and there remains only the joy of having used this world to establish God’s rule here. All pomp, all triumphs, all selfish[ness] ... All of that passes away.
What does not pass away is love.
Saint Oscar Romero, bishop and martyr, from a 1979 homily