God is the master and owner of everything in the heavens and everything on earth. The Holy Bible tells us that God breathed into man of His own spirit. In other words, He created man in His own image. He allowed the man and his wife to roam freely in the Garden of Eden. But when Satan tempted man and wife, and they gave into temptation, God sent the man and his wife on earth to live through a period of time when they would be exposed to both good and evil. Man was promised by God that he and his children would be returned to the Garden of Eden if they lived on earth holding fast to good and shunning all evil.
Satan, too, was sent to earth with the man and his wife. However, man was to become the vicegerent of God – His steward – seeing that man had been endowed with God’s spirit. Satan did not contain God’s spirit; hence, Satan too was subjected to man along with everything else in the heavens and on the earth. Man could control Satan, and the latter could only tempt man. Those who gave in to satanic temptation could not return to the Garden of Eden, according to God’s vow. Only those that lived by God’s principles on earth and properly managed God’s affairs were allowed to return to their first home – a home of absolute peace and joy.
Of course, Satan tries to stop such people at every turn. Those who succeed in this life and the hereafter must stay true to God’s commands nevertheless. To this end, the vicegerent of God must render to each what is due. Rendering justice is, indeed, the most important responsibility of a Christian. When Jesus Christ mentioned the major commands of God to his disciples, he was in fact rendering to each his due: God, the Almighty, must be loved with the entire being of the believer, and fellowman must be loved by the believer as he or she loves him- or herself. Thus, justice is the very basis of God’s commands.
With regards to loving one’s fellowmen, it is noteworthy that although each individual is endowed with the Spirit of God, all human beings do not appear equal. God did not grant equal abilities, talents, and gifts to all human beings. Some men are richer and more intelligent than the others. Some are born deaf, dumb, and blind. And, some must rely on income support because they just cannot beat poverty on their own. Hence, rich people ought to feel guilty if they are hoarding more and sharing less with their equals. Social justice demands righteousness on the part of all.
Catechism of the Catholic Church describes how differences among human beings must be used to the advantage of all: …[D]ifferences belong to God’s plan, who wills that each receive what he needs from others, and that those endowed with particular “talents” share the benefits with those who need them. These differences encourage and often oblige persons to practice generosity, kindness, and sharing of goods; they foster the mutual enrichment of cultures: I distribute the virtues quite diversely; I do not give all of them to each person, but some to one, some to others.
. . . I shall give principally charity to one; justice to another; humility to this one, a living faith to that one. . . . And so I have given many gifts and graces, both spiritual and temporal, with such diversity that I have not given everything to one single person, so that you may be constrained to practice charity towards one another. . . . I have willed that one should need another and that all should be my ministers in distributing the graces and gifts they have received from me. There exist also sinful inequalities that affect millions of men and women.
These are in open contradiction of the Gospel: Their equal dignity as persons demands that we strive for fairer and more humane conditions. Excessive economic and social disparity between individuals and peoples of the one human race is a source of scandal and militates against social justice, equity, human dignity, as well as social and international peace (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 1937-1938). Of course, distribution of wealth and sharing of talents are not the only forms of justice to be rendered by the vicegerent of God. Jesus loved both the poor and the oppressed folks.
Ashley refers to natural law as the perfecting of God’s creation according to His purposes. Even as God cares for His creation, human beings must participate by the use of their reason “in God’s wise care of the world (Ashley, p. 28). ” Thus, courts of law are considered a necessity in modern times. As a matter of fact, it is one of the chief responsibilities of God’s steward to save the oppressed from wrongdoers. An oppressed person may be depressed and longing for justice. In order to free him or her with the light of truth, the vicegerent of God must respond to injustice by righting the wrongs wherever he or she encounters them.
Even though believers in the just world theory would have the vicegerent of God imagine that everything in God’s world is orderly and just anyhow, the true believer in the word of God understands the meaning of justice through Biblical stories such as those of Micah (Andre and Velasquez; Quigley). According to Quigley, Micah was a “social justice prophet” of God. The prophet verbally attacked the religious, social and economic leaders of his day, claiming that the landowners were cheating others, the traders were greedy, the priests were mostly hypocritical, and their prophets were all false.
He stated that the people in power “‘eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from them, and break their bones. They chop them in pieces like flesh in a kettle (Quigley). ’” Noah, on the contrary, was considered a lover of justice in a different way altogether. He was a just man of God because he continued obeying God despite the corruption that surrounded him, thereby rendering justice unto his relationship with God, according to the first and foremost commandment described by the Christ (Merrienboer). By pleasing God, Noah also sanctified his own soul.
Surely, there is a kind of justice that a human being must render unto him- or herself. The human being must naturally love him- or herself, as the Christ mentioned. Hence, it is the right of a person to fight for his or her own rights when need be. This understanding of the words of Jesus was imparted to me by a friend who struggled against her own sexual harasser at my workplace. She was in ninth grade when her teacher began phoning her to ask how she felt in his classroom, having obtained her phone number easily from the students’ telephone book annually issued by her high school.
He showed up intrusively at her house one evening with the excuse that he would give her an extra lesson right before her mid-term exam. My friend’s mother accommodated both the student and the teacher in the large drawing room reserved for special occasions. As soon as the door was shut and the mother was out, the student and teacher opened their books to read together. The student had her geography textbook in hand when the teacher brought out a pornographic magazine out of his briefcase. As it happens in such cases, the student was uncertain how to react.
She refused to say what happened next, but we all heard that she had left that particular high school making excuses about it to her parents. She did not complain about her teacher to the authorities. She did not tell us whether he had had sex with her. Had she complained to the authorities in that case, the teacher might have faced a felony. After graduating from a different high school and going through college for some time, she landed up at my workplace. Strangely enough, her immediate supervisor at work turned out to be that self same teacher who had sexually harassed her in ninth grade.
The lady decided to stick to her job nevertheless. She tried hard to maintain cordial relations with him. One fine day he closed the door of her office behind him. After seating himself he casually took her hand to open the folder he had brought with himself. She nervously freed her hand from his grasp. So he opened the folder by himself to reveal to her a bunch of naked pictures of women. To the woman’s astonishment, all of the women in the pictures had the same hair color as she, and similar eyes. The pictures were personalized.
Regardless of their ludicrousness – this time my friend was not going to allow her teacher turned supervisor to make her uncomfortable enough to leave the place where she had planned to spend many years of growth and productivity. His behavior appeared absurd. And, she was not going to tolerate it. She asked the supervisor to leave her office at once, promising to bring the matter to the attention of the organization’s president. ‘I would not allow you to do that,’ the supervisor vowed, too. Since then, the two of them have been fighting their case in courts of law. She is doing it as a matter of principle.
He is trying to save himself from shame, being a husband and the father of three children. I strongly support the woman’s stance and admire her for dealing with the matter this time around with a sense of justice. She is not only fighting for her own dignity, but also for countless women whom the teacher turned supervisor may have attempted to ridicule or harass in the days to come. My friend has brought out with the facts of this case the incident of her high school years, when the same man had brought over a pornographic magazine into her drawing room to give her private lessons.
Although I am not aware of what had taken place after that incident – between the teacher and the student – it is clear to everyone who knows my friend that the man is crossing his boundaries in his professional life. Most importantly, my friend believes that it is her foremost responsibility to fight for justice, even if she is only protecting herself from injustice by taking action against the sexual harasser. Indeed, just action must be considered the foundation of faith by every Christian.
According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, justice is the very “pivot on which turn the virtues of religion, piety, obedience, gratitude, truthfulness, friendship, and many more (Wilhelm). ” Following the main commands of God is to render justice unto one’s relationship with God, oneself, and one’s fellowmen. What is more, following the second most important command of God, as described by the Christ, the believer is required to fight for his or her own rights or those of others whenever he or she encounters injustice. Of course, social justice includes the distribution of wealth and sharing of talents to boot.
Considering the many faces of justice, it is clear that justice is as all-encompassing as the vicegerent of God, that is, the human being containing the Spirit of God on earth.
Andre, Claire, and Manuel Velasquez. “The Just World Theory. ” Markkula Center for Applied Ethics: Santa Clara University. 2 Jun 2008. <http://www. scu. edu/ethics/publications/iie/v3n2/justworld. html>. Ashley, Benedict. Living the Truth in Love: A Biblical Introduction to Moral Theology. Staten Island, NY: Alba House, 1996. Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd ed.
2 Jun 2008. <http://www. scborromeo. org/ccc/ccc_toc. htm>. Merrienboer, Edward J. van. “The Prayer of the Just One. ” Spirituality Today, Vol. 43, No. 4. Spring 1991. 2 June 2008. <http://www. spiritualitytoday. org/spir2day/91434vanmerr. html>. Quigley, Bill. “Social Justice Spirituality: A Meditation on Micah 6:8. ” Blueprint for Social Justice, Vol. LVIII, No. 1. Sep 2004. 2 Jun 2008. <http://www. loyno. edu/twomey/blueprint/vol_lviii/No-01_Sep_2004. pdf>. Wilhelm, Joseph. “Heroic Virtue. ” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7. New York: Robert