CHAPLAIN AND CAMPUS MINISTRY OFFICE
Virtue of the Month of November
“Do for others what you want them to do for you.” (Matthew 7:12)
Amos, an Old Testament prophet told his cousins that their community had too many religious meetings, fancy projects, fund-raising schemes, and ego-satisfying music. He said they needed, instead, more fairness in their dealings with one another.
Amos lived more than two millennia ago, but his words still echo in the ears of Christians and Jews around the world. Cries for justice ring out throughout our nation and world every day
Philippine Context: Justice is the cutting edge issue in the Philippines today. Our common problem is stealing on all levels: among individuals, between families, between businesses and corporations, between private firms and the government. Widespread poverty, injustice, and exploitation of both people and natural resources, and the violation of human rights, continue to plague Filipinos.
A Call: PCP II calls for a real “social transformation” that responds to the challenges of building a new society of justice and peace.
I. JUSTICE IN SCRIPTURE
Justice is tied to a community
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God calls Israel “my people who are called by my name,” and God tells them to humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from wickedness. God addresses the people as a connected community. This connectedness creates responsibility to pursue both holiness and justice, with a special concern for those in need or suffering. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. (Prov. 21:3)
Justice calls for social responsibility
The seventh commandment, “You shall not steal.” (Ex 20:15; Deut 5:19) enjoins the practice of justice and charity in the administration of earthly goods and the fruits of men’s labor. Simply put, it enjoins us to respect the integrity of creation the dignity of human work which implies the spirituality of stewardship.
Likewise, the Tenth Commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…nor anything else that belongs to him” forbids not only unjust cravings for another’s property, but also envy at the success of others. We need to guard the motivation(s) and desires of our hearts.
Justice can mean Righteousness, Innocence, Justification
In the midst of the crucifixion, when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent [dikaios]” (Luke 23:47 NRSV).
Jesus tells of the judgment of nations when the “Son of Man comes in his glory” (Mt 25, 31). The king will separate people as a shepherd divides sheep and goats (v. 32). The sheep represent the righteous (dikaioi), and the king says to the sheep, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (vv. 34-36).
In other words, people who care for the disadvantaged are just or righteous in God’s eyes.
In John 5:30, Jesus uses a form of the word to describe his actions. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just [dikaia], because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (NRSV). The repeated use of the various forms of the Greek dikaios in the New Testament drives home the truth that God’s ethical goal for people includes both righteousness and justice, both personal morality and social justice. To divide the two is not biblical.
II. CATHOLIC TEACHING ON JUSTICE
Respect for the goods of others
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1807) teaches, “Justice is the moral virtue that consists in giving to God and to neighbor that which is their due.” It is the virtue that enables us to assume our responsibilities and to give others their due. “Justice toward God is called the ‘virtue of religion.’ Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good.”
Justice is considered as having three basic forms: commutative justice, in relations of people with one another; distributive justice, in relations of society (family, state, church) to individuals; and legal justice, whereby individuals subordinate themselves to the common good.
When God is allowed to reign in lives, justice becomes important. The principal act of justice is to give everyone what is due with honesty and fairness. In order that it will be honest and fair it is necessary that it will conform to the nature of the thing.
The good of each person is bound up with the common good. “The common good consists of three essential elements: respect for and promotion of the fundamental rights of the person; prosperity, or the development of the spiritual and temporal goods of society; the peace and security of the group and of its members.” (CCC 1925). They have to be approached through the moral and social virtue of solidarity, that is, a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good. (SRS 38).
For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world’s goods to God and to fraternal charity.
Other virtues adjunct to justice: religion, piety, observance, obedience, gratitude, vengeance, truth, friendship or affability, freedom and moderate interpretation of the law.
Solidarity: Love for the Poor and the Needy
Solidarity is an eminently Christian virtue. It practices the sharing of spiritual goods even more than material ones (CCC,1948).
Justice and charity
Love of God and love of neighbor are inextricably bound together. The closer we are to God the more we shall love our neighbor. Love (Charity) requires us to practice justice, and love makes us capable of doing it. Love also moves us beyond what justice requires to imaging the self-giving love of Christ in our lives.
Christians do not pursue justice simply out of some sense of it being the right or loving thing to do; they pursue it because it is an expression of the nature of God.
III. WAYS TO GROW IN THE PRACTICE OF JUSTICE
- Walk your talk: Be consistent and responsible in your words and actions.
- Be fair and honest in your dealings with others: Act what is considered right and charitable. Do good, avoid evil. No more bullying – be in social media or with individual person beside you.
- Keep your promises: Be truthful. Do your duty diligently; get involved in caring for our common home, the mother Earth.
- Call or email/write/text your local legislators about issues like poverty, inequality, homelessness, violence and environmental degradation. …
- Practice solidarity with the poor and the needy: share your blessings with others wholeheartedly and joyfully. God’s gifts are given to be shared, and not to be kept.IV. PRAYER FOR JUSTICE
Father, you have given all peoples one common origin. It is your will that they be gathered together as one family in yourself. Fill the hearts of mankind with the fire of your love
and with the desire to ensure justice for all.
By sharing the good things you give us,
may we secure an equality for all our brothers and sisters throughout the world. May there be an end to division, strife and war. May there be a dawning of a truly human society built on love and peace.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
 CFC 1136
2 PCP II 256-329 (Second Plenary Council of the Philippines)