2Cor 6:1-10; Ps 98:1-4; Mt 5:38-42
The justice of God is not the fruit of nation building. The God of Justice must reveal his justice; otherwise nations are blind to the justice of God. Throughout history, nations have struggled to assert identity and to defend integrity. Try though they might the individual nation-states have not always revealed the justice of God. Nation building is most often about self-defense and not about the justice of God. Until all the nations sing a new song and find joy in the salvation of God, there will be little justice on earth and no peace on earth. Still, the preacher Saint Paul cries out, “As your fellow workers, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” Still, the Lord Jesus demands, “Offer no resistance to one who is evil.” Still, we have much to learn about God and his justice.
The description of the missionary witness of Saint Paul is not an attractive advertisement for Christian ministry—ordained or lay. Who in his right mind would want afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils and fasts? We can barely handle abstinence and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Even the hour long Eucharistic fast is sometimes too inconvenient. The only way Saint Paul or any other Christian missionary throughout history can handle such a challenging ministry is “in the Holy Spirit” or “in the power of God.” The only weapons we have with which to defend ourselves are the “weapons of righteousness.” What are these so-called weapons? They are the fruits of the Holy Spirit: purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, unfeigned love, and truthful speech. As we use the gifts given at confirmation and renewed every Pentecost, the Holy Spirit builds up our character. As we become more virtuous, we are able to stand up boldly in the face of both glory and praise—dishonor and insult. When things are going well and the people think that we can do not wrong, we are in great danger. When things are going not so well and the people think that everything we do is wrong, we are still in danger. We must be vigilant at all times; we must be ready to give the glory and praise to God, and we must be ready to suffer dishonor and insult because few understand and even fewer appreciate the justice of God for which we live and die.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals the justice of God, which is still very foreign to us. The Lord Jesus makes reference to the Old Testament “eye for and eye.” The purpose of this law of retaliation was to curtail revenge and violence. All through the history of Israel the Lord God taught his people to be personally responsible, to blindfold lady justice, and to balance punishment and offense. Throughout the generations Israel was taught his justice, but even by the time of Jesus’ public ministry, this justice was not common practice. Even though the crowds had failed to learn God’s justice, the Lord Jesus did not hesitate to teach a new justice. Indeed, we must resist the Evil One and evil itself, but we are commanded to heap upon “one who does evil” the burning coals of love. Insults, lawsuits, oppression, and beggars are all to receive from us what we have first received from God. At this banquet table of the Eucharistic Sacrifice we are sustained by the very one we insulted, we brought to court, we pressed into carrying the cross, and we refused, Jesus, the justice of God in the flesh.