Last year we discussed the concept of ‘Truth’ at the time of Holy week. This year we should take time to think about the next most compelling concept of… Justice. However, we cannot discuss Justice without being dragged into another compelling principle…Mercy. These two concepts are inseparably intertwined so that you cannot bring one up without considering the other. That, for human beings, constitutes an irreconcilable paradox. Absolute justice is completely opposed to any consideration of absolute mercy and conversely Mercy refutes and undercuts absolute Justice. To a human mind that imperatively leads to what we should call relative justice and relative mercy, where each of the contradictory concepts is tempered by the other. This leaves the door open to many problems. Because it leads to a subjective judgment of what is acceptable and what is extreme, what is fair and kind and what is unjust and cruel. What seems like a just and merciful law to a group of people, is outright grievous and belligerent to others. Look at the modern day animal rights movement. They want to ban killing animals for feeding humans, and attack research laboratories burning and ransacking them. They like to equate the rights of dogs to the rights of man while at the same time they confuse the notion of fairness with the perception of kindness. On an abstract intellectual level, some might find a plausible argument for these ideas – minus the violence of course – but on a practical level, the majority of people will find these practices absurd and repugnant even if they sympathize with the general idea of fairness to animals. Nobody should advocate cruelty to animals, but in the same time, the majority of humans would not agree to consider themselves equal to dogs and hyenas!
You shall never find a single issue, where all humanity will agree, on the boundaries that make it just or kind. It was like that from the dawn of history and it gets even more complicated and convoluted with scientific and technical progress as well as the advancement of a wide range of philosophies and new age belief systems. Indeed, this paradox is at the bottom of every war, every conflict and every disagreement between individuals, families, tribes or nations.
To further explain the complexity of the matter, let us examine what is justice. In extremely simple terms, Justice demands punishment for wrongdoing and reward for proper achievement. That is where it becomes hairy. Who is to say that any behavior is right or wrong? Killing a Christian to some people is the ultimate achievement, which qualifies the perpetrator to receive ownership of seventy virgins in eternity. Snatching the wealth of a rich man – by law or by stealing it – in order to give it to poor people seems like a lofty goal of ‘merciful justice’ to those who practice it. They even have the audacity to claim that this is what happened (and approved) in the Bible at the time of the apostles. Of course they like to forget (or ignore) a little detail, that at the time of the apostles, people gave up their belongings and their wealth out of their own free will and were never forced into doing anything by anybody. It is abundantly clear that justice in the human mind is a flexible concept. You can stretch it to fit your purposes and therefore it becomes a painful expression of the changeable attitudes of humanity at the time and place where it is applied. Justice in Egypt, is different from justice in Saudi Arabia, or the Netherlands or Brazil. You may also examine how justice was practiced in the USA generation after generation to see the metamorphosis of a system that bears little semblance now to the way it began centuries ago.
Of course we can analyze this forever, but that is not the purpose of this expose, so (let’s have mercy) and move to discuss mercy. Defining mercy is rather elusive. Is it mercy when a mother does not punish her son for stealing the neighbor’s chicken? Is it mercy to let a student pass the test even though his answers wouldn’t warrant it? Is it mercy to help a person commit suicide for any economical or political expediency? Again, some people will find an intellectual argument to defend this desperately, while others will feel sick at its absurdity. Human reasoning is so clever in shaping and bending, forming and deforming all kinds of justifications for human behavior. That is why human reasoning is incapable to grasp the concept of absolute justice or absolute mercy, let alone having a possible way to reconcile the two seemingly antagonistic principles.
Absolute Justice and absolute Mercy are among the many absolute attributes of the one Omnipotent God. The scene at Golgotha speaks of absolute justice and absolute mercy satisfied to perfection. That is the reason why so many human beings find it very hard to understand or accept Golgotha, because they try to approach it with human reasoning. Nevertheless, when you realize that even the heavenly hosts were awestruck by the events unfolding before them while they were forbidden to interfere, you can see how far more difficult it is for humans to comprehend the cosmic event taking place at that particular point of time. This indeed is the ultimate display of the power of the Divine. It is an irrefutable proof that “to God, nothing is impossible”
The required task was to reconcile Justice, with Mercy while at the same time preserving the important principles of freewill of humankind. Only God in his infinite wisdom could accomplish such task. When you think of an illustrious and complex human achievement, like the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, deciphering the human genome or cranial cell communication, you casually waive it aside as the realm of a few humans who can “decode these things.” You don’t stop to think how one human brain can see through these mysteries while another human brain cannot. You take it for granted that a human being like Mozart could be endowed with creativity to produce such music as “the coronation Mass” or the “requiem” while other humans cannot even comprehend its supreme beauty. If human beings can reach such heights of intellect – which is, in fact, given them by the Divine – and yet fall short of the unbound wisdom and power of God, how can you expect human beings to understand and analyze the reasoning of God and his plans and his methods? It is only possible to conclude that those select few chosen by the Divine will be able to accept and comprehend how there is no such thing as impossible to God… This very fact has been made extremely evident and simplified at Golgotha for anyone who wants to see it. That is probably one of the reasons, why God demanded that we return to be as children so that it would be possible for us to enter into his glory. Because only if we strip ourselves of the shackles of human reasoning, that we can penetrate the unimaginable depth of divine providence. Not too many people can do that.
Is it any wonder now in the twenty first century that we see the same crowd of humans surround the Cross of Christ? It is the same representative sample of humanity across different time spans all over the globe. The believers are in disarray, yet steadfastly asking for deliverance and forgiveness from a seemingly weakened dying Christ… while a large army of enemies, boastful, more powerful and by far more numerous, is surrounding them…taunting and tormenting them…declaring that they have no valid hope in their Crucified Christ. Many believers now, like then, fell back and lost their faith. Many have fallen victim to the power of convoluted logic, bogus science and the manipulative influence of human reasoning. However, for those few who shall be able to find the difficult road and tight door through Golgotha, there will be a wonderful revelation, greater and immeasurably more pleasant when they behold the empty tomb….