Saturday, September 02, 2006

from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen OCD

O Lord, You who are just and love what is just, teach me how to practice justice perfectly

1. The justice of the soul aspiring to perfection is not cold and dry, not insistent about receiving all that is its due, but it is broad, liberal, generous, and vivified by the expansive breath of charity. Hence it reaches far beyond material justice, which does not come from the heart but limits itself to exterior acts. Primarily, the former is interior justice, that is, uprightness of heart and mind, justice in thoughts, desires, feelings, and intentions. The soul who possess it has not listened in vain to the words of Jesus: Unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 5,20). The justice of the Pharisees was insufficient, because it was limited to a purely exterior observance of the law. They had no scruples about secretly trampling upon their most sacred religious duties. These men covered their public conduct with the cloak of justice, without troubling themselves to make it the motive of their private conduct, their afflictions and the desires of their hearts. What good, then, is the outer display of justice if its interior spirit is lacking? For example, what use is it to pose in public as a defender of the rights of the people, if in private life a man does not pay workmen a just wage, or is dishonest in commerce, in business, in exercising his profession? What use is it to pour out fine words and promises - or even gifts - on anyone, when we are not willing to recognise and respect his rights?
The soul that thirsts for justice has a horror of all such proceedings, and, far from being satisfied to appear just in acts which can be judged by others, wants to be just in all actions, even those which are not seen by others, but are known only to God. He seeks above all justice of heart and of mind, for exterior justice proceeds solely from interior justice.

2. If we ourselves should fulfill justice rigorously in all our actions, interior as well as exterior, this does not give us the right to demand justice from our neighbour. More than anyone, Jesus brought justice into the world, yet no one was more gentle and kind than He. Even when it is our duty to safeguard or establish justice in specific circumstances, we should be careful not to be severe, but to act with kindness, trying to persuade rather than to impose. If we attempt to administer justice by force, we shall obtain nothing, or at most, a strained situation which will soon collapse. Following the example of Jesus, we must try to make justice penetrate into souls and into society by means of charity, love, and an understanding of the weakness of others. If we want to be realistic, we must remember that, no matter how much we do, we shall never, even under the best of circumstances, obtain absolute justice in this world. Perfect justice is found only in heaven; even Jesus bore with the unjust acts of Judas and the Pharisees. Although He could have acted otherwise, He did not wish to the cockle to be uprooted from the field until the time of the harvest. We then, must be very patient and merciful, especially when the justice is aimed against ourselves. For a soul aspiring to sanctity, it can well be said that the greatest justice consists in bearing patiently and humbly all the injustices of which it is the target, for it would be absurd to think of reaching perfection without following in the footsteps of Christ. If He, Innocence itself, suffered so much injustice without complaining, it is not just that we who are sinners should, at least, suffer something without posing as victims, but remaining calm and serene? Justice itself, then, urges us to bear injustices. Thus, this virtue which begins by enjoining us to give everyone his due, reaches its culmination in making us enter fully upon the path of sanctity and union with God.

....."A soul who looks upon You, O Incarnate Word, see that You are so just that, rather than fail in justice, You preferred to take on Yourself the punishment for all our sins; therefore, this soul also wishes to do justice to itself for all its faults. But it sees, too, that justice and mercy are united in You, so much so that You give Yourself, O Christ, ad Food to Your redeemed; You nourish them with Your words, Your deeds, Your example, but still more with Your Precious Blood" (St Mary Magdalen de Pazzi).