Justice in the New Testament

 

 

 

Questions for consideration this week:

  1. Consider Christ’s role in fulfilling the Saving Justice of the Old Testament.
  2. How can we make the Kingdom present by our actions – how do we live the Beatitudes?
  3. Who are the social outcasts of today, and do we seek out their company as Jesus did?
  4. How can we follow Christ in confronting the Established Authorities today?
  5. How can we follow Christ in challenging the social norms and values of the world today?
  6. Can we imitate Jesus in “emptying” ourselves, and orient ourselves towards solidarity with the poor?

Consider each question above as it pertains concretely to our lives.

You are most welcome to join us next Tuesday, 9 April, 2019 to take part in our discussion. For more details click here : OLA Lenten Justice Mornings 2019

Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s Saving Justice

“God did not send His Son into to the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved though Him.” (John 3:17)

The Kingdom of God is mentioned 90 times by Christ. The Jewish understanding of Kingdom is not simply a territory but a process of ruling: a Just Reign.

Signs of the Kingdom include: healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and confronting the powers of evil. The Kingdom of God is made present by these actions; it is not only a future event.

 

The teachings of the Kingdom are to be found in the Sermon on the Mount and in the Magnificat

The Beatitudes are a description of the ideal Christian. The people who try to live these beatitudes are the making Kingdom present: “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)

In the Magnificat, the values of the world are challenged by the values of Christ.

 

The focus of the Kingdom is declared by Christ in the Synagogue in Nazareth

“to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save His people.” (Luke 4:16-19)

Jesus showed special concern for the social outcasts – those regarded as sinners and ostracized by the society. Jesus instead sees their dignity.

Those who were captive, whatever the nature of their chains, are freed.

 

Jesus challenged the values of the world

Christ criticized the ruling and religious establishment:

“you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness.” (Luke 11:39)

Jesus was critical of accumulation of excessive wealth.

 He emphasized the need to have the right perspective and criticized how we assess our priorities:

“Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (Luke 12:31)

Jesus disregarded legalistic norms that obstruct human contact and argued that legal purity can never replace fundamental moral conduct:

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)

The description of the Last Judgment is the most striking example of God’s Justice:

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”  (Matthew 25:40)

 

Making the Kingdom present

The attitude or spirit needed to bring about the kingdom of God is one of service and humility – the simplicity of little children.

A primary concern of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles is that nobody is left without their basic needs. The community should share their resources to ensure that nobody is left in need.

St James’ Letter is very practical and he describes the just person as the person who puts faith into action, who does not merely speak justice, but acts justly.

St Paul insists that Christ has freed us from the Law. He makes clear that we are all equal in Christ and the divisions and barriers that existed before are gone – justice is about living together in harmony and right relationship, rather than strictly observing the Law.

 

Orienting ourselves towards Justice

St Paul talks about the emptying out – kenosis – by the Son of God when He became man. This kenosis is an act of radical solidarity with the poor, with us humans, God taking on the form of a human being even “unto death and death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

The key attitudes needed to live the beatitudes then are humility and service.

We must orient ourselves to the vision of reality in the Bible. Jesus has commissioned us to carry on this vision and make the Kingdom present where we are – in our homes, community and places of work.