So in case you couldn’t already tell from my post on Sanctuary’s blog, Reach, I really like Superman. There’s something I admire about his demeanor… And no it’s not that infamous curl. I’m talking about the way he carries himself. He is a natural leader, but he’s also humble. Yet, he stands firm for truth, justice and the “American Way.” The entire world looks to him as a symbol of hope; when they see him (up in the sky), they know justice will be done.
But how is justice “done” by those of us who don’t receive super powers by the rays of the yellow sun? I’m not talking about the kind of justice done by the government. Superman is not and does not try to be a judge or a lawyer. Contrary to the common thought, there are many ways to define the action of justice than that which is carried out through a court of law. The trusty ‘ole Dictionary.com gives five different definitions for “justice.” The first of which is this: “the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness or moral rightness.” So another way to do justice is to be righteous and fair. But I think it goes beyond moral conduct.
The Pharisees, the ultimate symbols of religion in Jesus’ day, were excellent at being morally right but they failed do rightly, to do justice. Jesus called them out in Matthew 23:23, when he said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Luke 11:42 translates it this way, “you neglect justice and the love of God.”
The Hebrew word for “being just” is usually translated as “being righteous” when it actually refers to cultivating a life of right relationships–treating everyone with fairness, equity, and generosity. Therefore, righteousness and justice are intimately inter-woven. Kind of gives a different perspective on Matthew 5:10, doesn’t it? “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (doing justice) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We are called to not just live rightly in our own personal, moral way but to also do justice by living rightly with those around us. In doing this, we are speaking to the heart of our Lord—a just God who blesses those who feed the hungry, care for the sick and comfort the widows.
So, if you’re like me and want to be more like Jesus (and Superman) and less like the hypocritical Pharisees, then let’s step out of our introspective, morally righteous bubbles and actively seek ways to do justice in our society. We won’t have to look long for opportunities to show people love, respect and care. We just have to look.