Aloha Friday Message – February 18, 2011 – Justice and Righteousness

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Happy Aloha Friday Beloved. Today’s Bible verse is another familiar one, but I want to focus on a slightly different understanding of it. Here you go:
Proverbs 21:21 (NAB) He who pursues justice and kindness will find life and honor. http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/proverbs/proverb21.htm

You may remember this phrasing:
Proverbs 21:21 (AJKV) He that follows after righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor. http://kjv.us/proverbs/21.htm

Or possibly this one:
Proverbs 21:21 (KJV) He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%2021:21-22&version=KJV

In this verse we are probably more used to seeing the word “righteousness” than we are to seeing the word “justice.” It is the word justice that I want to examine today. Righteousness is thought of virtue, blamelessness, morality, decency, honest, and – yes – justice. The Greek word in the Septuagint is δικαιοσύνης (dikaiosuné), a word which refers to fulfillment of the law, divine righteousness, or the business of a judge . In Hebrew, the word used here is hq’d’c.. (tse-da-kaw), and refers to justice and righteousness in government, in a case or cause, and of salvation (among others).

In Matthew 5:6, we read, “God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full.” Ah, but you learned that verse as “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” So, let me ask you, “Are the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5 more about personal virtue and morality, or more about social justice?” Of course you know I am going to take the middle road and say, “Both.” Here’s why. Take a look at Matthew 22:36-40: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22%3A36-40&version=NIV

Matthew 22:36-40 (New International Version, ©2010)
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew’s Gospel focuses on understanding the Messiah with respect to the Law and fulfillment of the law. In Matthew 3:14-15, the account of Jesus’ Baptism, John clearly expresses his conviction that Jesus is superior to him in every way and that John should take the subordinate role. Jesus says, in effect, “We’ve got to do this so that we will meet Scriptural expectations found in prophecy and moral conduct as God has willed.” But, there is more. Jesus is referring to the Salvation available only through God and thereby affirming that he is committing himself, from this point forward, to bringing that salvation through fulfilling in himself the Law and the Prophets.

Jesus will become both of these ideals by becoming Justice and Morality, Equity and Virtue, and thereby becomes the Messiah promised in all of scripture – a Messiah who establishes David’s throne forever and brings the Kingdom of God. He will submit to God’s plan of salvation for every human as the One who is simultaneously human and Divine. By “submitting” to John’s baptism, Jesus identifies his humanity with the humanity of sinners and confirms his Divinity by taking the first step toward finalizing God’s plan of salvation. After this, all who enter the Kingdom will be under the just and righteous ruler. Divine Virtue becomes Social Justice through the beliefs and actions of the citizens of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets because it is the Body of Christ.

What do you know about Social Justice? What do you believe about social justice? What does your church – if you have one – believe about Social Justice? And a more important question: What are you doing to ensure everyone has access to Social Justice? Please check out these links. I’d really like you to give this some serious thought. The present condition of the world’s economy makes it essential to understand this highly-important concept in very concrete and manageable terms.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_social_teaching Catholic Social Teaching

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_justice Wikipedia: Social Justice

Share-A-Prayer:

GM: Facing a new deployment soon. With a precious wife two very young children at home, this one could be rough. Please pray for a favorable and safe assignment.

NA: Studying Criminal Justice and hanging in there despite life-long health issues. Pray for continued stamina and help from friends and family.

MM: 4 y.o. who suffers from congenital birth defects related to chromosome 21 problems. Has to undergo complex physical therapy. Pray for effective therapies and strength for the family.

The Pierce family and the Hands and Feet Project. They are medical missionaries in Haiti. Pray they can continue to save lives and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Special prayers for baby Martiline.

HC, beloved friend and teacher. Mrs. C died in early January, and at nearly 90 he’s got a lot on his plate. Ask God to sustain him as he grieves.

Millions, if not billions, of people are facing incredible economic deprivations so that even basic life-necessities are completely out of reach. Reach out to them in prayer. Use your time, talents, and treasures to alleviate their suffering. Exceed your own generosity at least once this coming week.

Beloved, I pray you will make a conscious decision to find some way to serve and support Social Justice. Ask Jesus to show you at least one place at home or abroad where you CAN make a real difference by giving of yourself unstintingly. Already doing that? Then join us in praying for those who are not.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

PS I know most of you will not have the Greek and Hebrew fonts to see the words I presented. It’s OK, go with the idea behind the words. That’s what is important. Feast on the Word and not on the World.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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