“Are you getting what you deserve?”
Our theme this Sunday is Practicing Love by doing Justice. Justice is what the widow in Jesus’ parable is seeking from a judge in court. Her case is not described at all – apparently, the case is not the point. What is central is her perseverance – her determination to be heard, to get a response. Finally the judge, who admits that he respects neither God nor persons, responds to her – just to get her off his back, and his nerves.
But what is justice? Is it bringing wrongdoers to account? Does it require punishment? Retribution? Compensation? Does justice preclude compassion and mercy?
Is justice getting what we deserve? In our day and age, this concept is prevalent. We all have rights we want to defend. We want what we’ve earned. We also want what we feel we are entitled to (earned or not). Advertisements appeal to what we feel we deserve: “Buy this new car – you deserve it!” “You deserve a vacation after you’ve worked so hard!” “You deserve a break today, so get up and get away…” Who decides, however, what we truly deserve?
God’s justice. Biblical justice is much deeper than advertising, of course. It has its roots in God’s justice, putting things right. Part of justice is an affirmation of what is true – the truth of the situation. Part of justice is action – the righting of wrongs. In societal situations, things start to get very messy at this point. Who is responsible? Who must pay?
The parable ends with God – when God is judge, justice will be neither delayed nor denied. “Will God not grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night?” Considering our sinful natures, should we pray to God to get what we deserve, or should we pray not to get what we deserve? JBM