Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Diamonds out of Dust

Justice.   It's a word we throw around quite a bit.  By it we often mean simply fair.   If other people can do it, so should we be able to.   If it hurts someone else we should not be allowed.  So on and so forth.   It has a different meaning though that is just as important if not more so.   The Latin word justus gives the subtle flavor of 'what is due.'   What we deserve.   Now that changes things quite a bit doesn't it?   Especially when we talk about divine justice.   What exactly do I deserve?  Nothing at all.  Or rather, nothing good anyway.   If we truly got what we deserved from God we would be in trouble.   "The wages of sin is death" after all.

That's not what He gives us though is it?   No, rather he blesses us in abundance.  I remember sitting on the bank of the Mississippi river last year meditating on that very thought.   The sun was coming up over the trees in the distance.  Birds were chirping.  Off in the distance I could hear the faint echo of a barge as it pushed it's way against the mighty river to deliver all the goods and services we have at our fingertips.  I had a glass of cold lemonade in my hand that was sweating in the warm summer air.   Little insects were flying back and forth from the flowers and the breeze was just enough to make the warm, moist air pleasant and cooling.   All of this was given to me, a man who didn't deserve it.    I thought to myself "Man, this scene would be perfect if a deer would walk out of the woods right now."

Ah, that's the rub isn't it?  We always think we can one up God.   He had given me a scene from a romance novel to woo my senses and call to my heart and all I thought of is how I could make it better.   He still loved me.   Knowing the kind of person I was, a man fickle and demanding, He still chose to give me that scene to show me how much He loved me.   That's the truth about God's justice is that it is tempered with mercy and love.   What about our justice?   In today's reading, Isaiah reminds us that we are to make justice our aim, especially to address wrongs and help the widow and orphan.   That's because God shows us that though justice has the notion of what is due, what is merited and what is deserved... God's justice doesn't rely on our merits.. but on the merits of Christ.  

We receive from God what Christ deserves.   That means beautiful days to sit and relax in perfect still moments.   It means gifts of food, family and friends.   The real rub though becomes seeing God's perfect moment in the rain with a flat tire.   Seeing the proverbial deer coming out of the woods while in the E.R. with a kidney stone.   Being thankful as we watch someone passing away with cancer or having a radical sense of gratitude as we watch our bills pile up and credit cards get maxed.   It's knowing that what we are receiving, no matter how horrible it may seem at the time, is simply better than we deserve and in some way is forming us.   When we are under pressure, as the song goes, He is making diamonds out of us.   Then in response offering every person we encounter not what we think they deserve, but rather treating them the way God treats us... as if they were Christ standing right before us.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent, March 14, 2017.