Exemplary Justice

1 May 2007. Labor Day. Tuesday of the 4th Week of Easter
Acts 11, 19-26 and John 10. 22-30 Exemplary Justice

With the virtues such as prudence and temperance, our Catholic faith places justice as one of the cardinal virtues. Cardinal (Latin, cardo) means many virtues hinge on it. Thus, it is a virtue that every humane person, certainly each and every Christian, should honor both in word and deed. Justice cannot be separated from faith. Our faith must do justice, as the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus asserts.

There are different types of justice as we know from our faith. Commutative Justice governs the relationships between individuals. Distributive Justice governs relationships between government and its citizens. And Social Justice governs all social, political and economic relationships within our society.

Justice like a coin has two faces. First, there is justice in our external relationships, and justice within. That means every organization, institution and communities have to be just to those beyond their jurisdiction but also should be just within it. For example, the Office of the Ombudsman who checks on the lifestyle of government officials to prevent corruption should also practice a lifestyle check within its ranks.

This should be the same with the Church and all those who are members of the church. Unlike the other organizations, the Church profess that we are the body of Christ. We are the people of God. Thus, if we are indeed the Body of Christ, then we have to practice commutative, distributive, and social justice within and outside of our church. Because our highest regard is to be like Jesus who is just.

Therefore the challenge is this: we cannot just say to others that we are like other organizations that have certain unjust practices. The bishops tell us in Catholic social teaching, that in our dealings with our employees, whether they are our house helps or office staff that we, Catholics, must not only be as good as other organizations, but we must be “exemplary.”

Therefore, as we celebrate Labor Day and the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, we may look at our practice of justice. It is not enough that we are like other organizations. As Christians, we are challenged to be “exemplary” justice givers.

*One of the touching traditions is done after the funeral mass of a Jesuit. As the body passes through the Loyola House corridor on its way to Sacred Heart Novitiate, the Jesuits give the person a warm applause for his selfless labor. Here Fr. Charlie Wolf SJ, our confessor and spiritual director is given honor by us, his brothers. Exemplary life.

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