Fr. Roy Cimagala
There’s a beautiful passage in the gospel that we should try our best to appreciate and live by. It’s actually a citation from the Book of Isaiah (42,3) that is quoted also in the gospel of St. Matthew (12,20).
It’s a passage that evokes the tenderness of God toward us, a tender-ness that we should also try to have in our relation with others, especially those suffering misfortune of any kind. It gives us the bigger picture of what is involved in the relation between charity and justice.
The passage is this: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”
We need to meditate on this passage, and try to fathom the wisdom behind it, because most likely we may have to revise, even drastically, or at least deepen some more our understanding of the link between charity and justice. We cannot deny that many times, we are lost or at least confused in knowing how to relate justice with charity.
In this passage which refers to the actuation of Christ, we are practically reminded that we have to be most tender, under-standing, compassionate and merciful to those who may be disadvantaged because of their own misdeeds.
This was the example of Christ himself who, in the face of the greatest injustice inflicted on him by man, continued to be tender and nice with his offenders. St. Peter described this point very well when he said:
“When they hurled their insults at him (Christ), he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him (God the Father) who judges justly.” (1 Pt 2,23)
We might ask questions like: Why did Christ behave that way? Why should his behavior be a pattern to ours? How can justice be served if we are mocked, insulted and gravely offended?
I believe the answer can simply be this: We are all children of God, objects of his love. Whatever mistakes or sins we commit cannot erase the fact that we are all children of God and, as such, are objects of his everlasting love.
God’s attitude to-ward us can be likened to that of good parents who may give some punish-ment to their erring children but will never let go of their love. And whatever punishment is given is done in such a way that it does not break the inherent dignity of the children. If at all, the punishment is meant to help the children to reform.
Somehow, St. Paul expresses this sentiment when he said: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.” (Rom 12,19)
The underlying reason for this kind of attitude and behavior is that the fullness of justice is when we accord each one what ultimately is due to him, and that is, charity, which is the very reason for our existence, our raison d’etre.
Charity is the fullness of justice! For as St. John Paul II said: “Justice is based on love, flows from it and tends towards it.” Fr. Roy Cimagala is Chaplain, Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE), Talamban, Cebu City, Email: roycimagala @gmail.com.