God’s Justice Always Prevails!

Encountering God in the In-Between!
October 6, 2022
God’s Blessing
October 22, 2022

In recent days, I have been reflecting on our very personal, human demands for justice, mercy and compassion; and, I have been hearing about the sense of guilt as we wonder and feel uncertain whether God hears our prayers; when we imagine there is no response. 

Last Saturday at Synod, I listened to Rev’d Justine speak about the injustices created by the very bureaucratic system that is our NDIS and the impact it had on her brother and others like him as she and her family tried to access appropriate care for Mitch for months before he died.  Three nights later, I listened to a parishioner grieve at the lack of justice and compassion for a dear friend who has dementia and is in hospital; who needs to go into care, but an affordable place cannot be found locally. The doctors and nurses are ignoring the needs of the elderly man: looking away as its all too hard.  

I listened to women at Synod talking with real courage, about their appalling experiences of family, domestic and intimate partner violence. I felt their despair at the economic and political culture here in Australia which has ignored women’s rights in our communities, workplaces, homes and churches for far too long.

I have stood with others who have had to argue while seeking care for those struggling with addictions and mental health illnesses.  I have been arrested for protesting the injustices done to refugees and asylum seekers in this country which are cruel, vindictive and inhumane.   

Injustice is ever present, and it is even harder when we lose hope, give up, become cynical and then give up on God.

When Martin Luther King Jr was challenged about his own fight for justice for African Americans, he wrote in one of his famous letters while imprisoned in Birmingham goal: 

We know through painful experience freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.  Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was ‘well timed’ in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation.  For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’  It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity.  This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’  We must come to see … that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’   

Closer to home, many of us have experienced what we imagine is God’s silence in our despair. We have not had an immediate answer, healing, reconciliation, comfort, justice, nor a solution to help the one for whom we are praying.  In Luke’s Gospel, 18:1-14, Jesus tells his disciples two parables, the first about the widow and the unjust judge, and the second of the pharisee and the tax collector.  Luke wrote:

Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 18: 1.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you! 1 Thess. 5:16-18: 

Yet our life experiences seem to contradict our hope of a God who provides justice to all who cry out.  It appears the unjust judges of the world and those who benefit from their rulings seem to do as well as, if not better than, those patiently waiting for a word from the Creator.   We have also said our prayers and called blessed, those who are successful in this world, those who have power, privilege and possessions, and we have pitied are those who are without.  We have associated success in this world with God’s justice for us.  We have stood alongside the pharisee who prayed this prayer.

Then we ask, where is the loving God who is meant to provide justice quickly?    And, when God’s response comes, it is not because the widow or the judge is evil or good.  Job teaches us evil befalls a person, irrespective of their worthiness, goodness or success.   So how do we reconcile the promise of a God who will provide justice and mercy with the reality of the multitudes who go to their graves without justice? 

Hannah Arrendt, the Jewish philosopher gave one sort of answer as she reflected on the Jewish holocaust and the millions who died at the hands of their neighbours; who died without seeing their perpetrators brought to justice.  As Christians, we know God remembers and knows each one of them personally.  Arendt tells us, in such circumstances there are no black holes in human history.  Justice will always be done if we wait long enough, because the voices raised persistently for justice will be heard. 

We know justice is done because God’s mercy brings forward into the light, the work, the hopes and prayers of all who have prayed for justice ‘without ceasing’, persistently and faithfully, to establish God’s will on earth. 

In the end, perhaps we should do as God asks and copy the widow’s behaviour, which was persistent and faithful.  Rather than waiting patiently for a miracle from God, we are perhaps called to be the miracle for which others have been praying, bringing God into the darkness and shining a light.  Our prayer must be ‘your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’, not our will or our desires for justice. We let go our version of justice – it is God’s justice we seek!

The parable of the despised tax collector reminds us there are all sorts of people who are excluded, ignored and held in contempt just like him.  They are considered disposable. They too suffer like Christ as they face their own brokenness.  They too are crucified on the cross of disability, age, illness, sexism, race, ethnic discrimination and heterosexism, yet it is their prayer of despair and hope beyond all understanding, which breaks through the world’s noise and our own disbelief. Our prayers come from the depths of our hearts, weighed down with tears of sorrow. 

All of us in such circumstances find ourselves praying in the liminal space between the crucifixion of Friday and the resurrection of Sunday.  Holy Saturday is the hopeless space where all that is known is the brutality and violence of Crucifixion Friday.  Sunday remains uncertain, too far away for us to simply wait passively. 

To live in the space of Holy Saturday is to be the widow continually pestering the unjust judge for justice to be done.  To live in Holy Saturday, is to watch loved ones go off to war and see everything destroyed while continuing to resist war and struggle for peace.  It is to embrace the hopelessness of the moment and accept all we can be and actively do in God’s name is love, love, love. 

Those who have not encountered or experienced this despair are generally in too much of a rush to get to Easter Sunday.  We need to wait actively, ready in this God filled space, knowing, giving witness to the suffering, and not give in to fatalism or cynicism.   

We are called to seek God’s justice, not because it is easy or because in the end, we will ‘win’ and others will ‘lose’.    We are called to seek justice, regardless of the consequences, simply for the sake of God’s justice itself because it was our beloved Christ who was crucified alongside our loved ones. We too hold his lifeless body in our arms as we do with our dead hopes and broken dreams for our loved ones. We too have buried Jesus alongside them in an unknown grave and while we grieve, we will not give up! 

I hope you hear Christ saying all this to you, personally.  My friends, pray without ceasing and do not give up.  There is no need to give up.  God’s will for you will be done.  This is what we are called to do, to pray and work for God’s justice and mercy for all God’s children.  It is in this prayer we arrive joyfully on Easter Sunday.

The Lord be with you.  

Bibliography

Jarvis, C.A., Johnson, E.E. [Gen. Ed’s].  2014.   Feasting on the Gospels Luke Vol. 2.  Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Johnson, L.T.  [Harrington, D.J., S.J., Ed.] 1991.  Sacra Pagina Series Vol.3.  The Gospel of Luke.  A Michael Glazier Book.  The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota.

Lucy Morris
Lucy Morris
Anglican Priest, International Speaker, Published Author, Social Justice Advocate and Activist.

Comments are closed.