Of Justice and God’s Judgment

Luke 11: 42-46
Rom 2: 1-11 / Psa 62

Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.
(Luke 11: 46)

What laws on earth could guarantee
Our passage to eternity?
Man-made laws have been man’s burden,
Roadblocks on his way to heaven.

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the market-places. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.” One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And He said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them” (Luke 11: 42-46).

Reflection

In their meticulous observance of man-made laws (like tithing even on herbs), the Pharisees neglected the more important things in their ministry, like rendering just laws, and humbling themselves before God. Instead, they sought the adulation of men, thus their spiritual lives became as lifeless as forgotten graves. The lawyers, or scribes, likewise felt imputed by Christ’s condemnation, because they were the ones who crafted the laws that were almost impossible for the ordinary folks to observe. They muddle the affairs of men with laws that they themselves interpret for their own benefit. Truth and Justice are often sacrificed in the salas of ‘legalese’ manipulations and compromises. President Manuel Roxas once said, “Those who have less in life must have more in law.” But how pathetically ironic that like the people of Palestine in Jesus’ time, it is the ordinary people who are suffering under the yoke of laws crafted by our legislators, and interpreted by our lawyers in complicated legalese. Thousands of men and women who have less in life are either languishing in jails, or sinking deeper in debt as their cases seek resolution in the turtle pace of our justice system. This is a grave injustice.

How like the Pharisees our congressmen and senators strut about in self-importance while their constituents wonder when the prosecution of grafters or needed reforms in the justice system will finally be implemented. So also with some of our ‘hoodlums in robes’, who are not far from the scribes that our Lord also condemned. In today’s first reading, St. Paul reminds them: “Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed. God will give to each person according to what he has done.” (Rom.2:5-6)

The message of our Lord in today’s Gospel of Luke is about justice. Our love for God can only be shown when we practice justice towards others, especially the poor and the suffering. Neglecting them in their time of need is like the injustice shown by the rich man towards poor Lazarus at his gate, and will not go unpunished when we face the final judgment of God.

Lord, grant us the grace to realize that there is no substitute for what is honest, just, and moral, and no amount of human laws crafted by the most brilliant minds can ever change even one letter of these timeless values of Your Divine Law. May Your greatest law of love rule our lives now and forever. Amen.

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