Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR
You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
You may notice the play on words in the English language which seems to enhance the meaning of this title of Jesus: He is both the Son of God and the Sun of Justice. The sun is the largest star in our sky, dominates all other lights, gives warmth and nurturance to all, and brings clarity and color to our world. We need the sun for life and light, and without it we would simply shrivel up and die. That is even more the case with our need for Justice. Justice is one of the four Cardinal Virtues from Greek philosophy (Prudence, Justice, Temperance, Fortitude), but more importantly, it is a biblical concept which has to do with our relationships with God and man. To call Jesus the “Sun of Justice” is another way of saying that He shines down upon, sustains, and nourishes all of our relationships, both human and divine.
My first exposure to “justice” in the human sense was from my old Jewish neighbors who were part of my world in Jersey City when I was growing up. Inadvertently, they taught me a lot about “Justice.” You could have a difference of religion or of opinion from them—and they would fight you about the details—but they would respect you if you had religious faith and didn’t do anything dishonest toward them. But if you were a sheister—that means, if you stole or cheated or lied in your dealings with them—you were out on your nose in a minute. They were “just” in a very real human sense. Their sense of “justice” came from the Old Testament sense of “righteousness” before God and man, and it meant you had to live up to some higher standard. It also meant you could be “judged” for failing to live up to it as well. They were tough old birds, but they really taught me about standing on my own two feet and keeping in good with my neighbor.
Of course, in an absolute sense, “Justice” means being able to stand before God with a clean conscience and not demand that God change the order of existence just to suit my preferences. It means having a certain attitude of humility toward reality, recognizing that God’s law runs the world, and by respecting that law we will find our peace with men as well. Part of God’s law is a moral code that we must live up to and cannot arbitrarily toss out of the way when inconvenient. The reason why the “scales of justice” are the image of the legal profession is because, in the Final Judgment, we will all be “weighed in the scales” to find out if we have lived up to that code. Certain biblical passages about this Judgment are a bit disconcerting for the modern relativistic mindset, and 2 Corinthians 5:10 is one of them. It states that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.”
We need not fear that judgment, though, if we are devoted to Jesus Christ, the “Sun of Justice.” He is a merciful Judge and also the great teacher of Justice for all who wish to learn how to live rightly. First and foremost, Jesus teaches us the difference between right and wrong, fundamental categories of good and evil, the stark difference between justice and injustice. We should always ask Him for guidance in answering the difficult moral questions of our day, and when we are in doubt, we need only look to His Church for that guidance. He established His Church to hand on His truth and help men form their consciences rightly.
Secondly, the “Sun of Justice” shows us how to maintain proper relationships with people in this world. Would you believe that He is concerned about all relationships from marriages to business partnerships to friendships? If we make Him the Lord of all our relationships we will always “walk in righteousness,” which is sort of a biblical way of saying that we receive the blessing of a happy and healthy life and stay on good terms with friend and foe alike. We should seek out that blessing from the “Sun of Justice” with all our hearts.
Lastly, let us ask the Lord to teach us how to put God first in our lives and in everything we do. That is true Justice. The Sun is the leading light in the sky, and in the modern age we know that the earth actually revolves around the Sun, not the other way around. So our lives should revolve around Christ, the Sun of Justice. That is the first and essential formula for being just: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt 6:33)
Holy Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ, give balance and clarity to all our relationships, human and divine. Help us always to put the concerns of God’s Kingdom first so that He will pour out the blessings of His Life upon us and we will live in the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
[Excerpted from: Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Jesus and Mary: In Praise of their Glorious Names, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.: Huntington, Indiana, 2012.]