Justice and Peace Will Kiss
Psalms 85:11 – Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss.
The readings for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time bring us to the very cusp of this Scripture. How does or how can Justice and Peace kiss?
In modern times we describe justice in three subcategories: commutative justice, distributive justice, and social justice.
Commutative justice demands fairness in all relations and exchanges. But this must be understood in the context of both distributive justice, which requires that the benefits of social, economic, and political life reach all people, including those on the margins of society, and social justice, which insists that all people have opportunities for participation and authentic human development. (usccb.org)
In ancient times all these concepts were already present if articulated in a slightly different form in both the OT and NT. Leviticus chapter 19 is full of such justice. In our time it is good to remember this warning: When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him. You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God (Lev 19:33-34).
In near ancient times Jesus tells us the mercy story of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:30-37) ending with “Go and do likewise (Lk 10:37b).”
For Jesus, Justice cannot be achieved without Mercy having voided the misappropriated social law of non-interaction with the alien with a hands-on mercy.
The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp. (Lv 13:45-46).
Dwelling outside the camp is a sensible thing to do. Notifying others of your illness is also sensible. It wasn’t that long ago that most homes had a sick room used to care for family members that have fallen sick. They were kept ‘outside the camp’ but not outside of the care of the community. Protection, food, medicines and clothing were provided and their plight was never far from the hearts of the people of the community. Declaring ‘Unclean’ is less about communicable diseases than it is about a declaration of need for help. Requiring proclamation of ‘Unclean’ obliges the hearer to respond with kindness.
If you wish, you can make me clean. (Mk 1:40b).
Purification. What is it? Purification after leprosy is a three step process. First, the cure, this happens by an act of God. The sore heals via the grace of God and the mystery of creation. The second step is the sacrifice of the bird and the bathing in living water. After the eighth day, the purification lamb blood sacrifice, holocaust and cereal offering for show bread all for the atonement of sin.
Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them (Mk 1;44b).
I do will it. Be made clean (Mk 1:41b).
In this exchange, Jesus identifies with the Rite of the Purification of Leprosy. The cure by God, bathing in living water, and blood sacrifice & show bread. These are the gifts Jesus himself desires be made through him. He does not remove the necessity of conferral by priest the sacred (new) rite. This is hands on mercy tracing the blood on the ear, thumb and toe. He is also indicating the necessity of purgation after healing. The form has changed but the requirement has not.
Even after the cure we are obligated to the eighth day celebration. Even after the cure we are obligated to complete the purgation of sin. This act remains even today. The form has changed certainly.
Purgation is a social act of making right relation between man and God, and again, between man and man. Purgation is Justice. Justice is an expression of mercy for it is not a deprivation of wealth or the lashing stripes upon the body. It is not punishment. Justice is embracing the unclean in charity and making them clean.
Be Made Clean
Protection, food, medicines and clothing are to be provided and their plight never far from the hearts of the people of the community.
In your own life let justice and peace kiss.
Peace be with you.