Found in my blog reader yesterday was a link to a podcast on Ancient Faith Radio given by Fr. Stephen Freeman. I highly recommend you listen to it before continuing to read. It’s only 11 minutes long and you’ll be glad you did.
We all want justice of some sort. We want to be treated fairly. Often that justice is sought in an aggressive manner. Children stomp their feet, throw things around, scream and yell. Adults sometimes do that too! Some people seek justice in passive ways which can be more aggressive than physical attacks. They may manipulate people and situations behind the scenes to their own end. But one way or another, we want our pound of flesh when an ounce of ours may have been stolen or abused.
Several points Fr. Stephen makes ring true for me right now.
- “What I really want is for the event never to have happened. No amount of punishment is sufficient to counterbalance the crime.”
- “The desire for justice out of the fellow servant is insatiable. It robs us even of mercy. An insatiable desire is called a passion.”
- “Salvation is known through God’s mercy, not His justice.”
- “Eye for an eye is a maximum that can be extracted for a payment. This is the law of retaliation. It is not a prescription but a limit.”
It’s a bad place to be when you plot in your mind ways to get back at or want someone else to suffer more than you have. Those are sinful thoughts because in them mercy cannot be found. Rather our thoughts, prayers, frustrations, and tears need to be turned towards God on behalf of those who perpetrated the evil because they are possessed by demons and have no desire to ask forgiveness or repent. They believe they are right. The Sadducees and crowd yelled for Barabbas to be released, possessed by their hatred and fear, believing they were right. If I believe with the same conviction against the Sadducees and crowd, wanting/plotting/hoping/imagining ways they will get theirs, then what does that make me?!
Do I really believe that what man intends for evil, God intends for good and a benediction? If I do, then I must accept what occurs that I’ve perceived as evil and receive it with the hope of His Benediction.
Easy to write about. Much, much more difficult to live.