Our Just God
19 October 2017
Some years back, thirty-five to be precise, I picked up St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. I had, for some time as a young man and university student, felt a deeper movement in my heart. Little did I know at that time, that the Letter to the Romans is Paul’s most mature and deeply theological letter. I was captivated by Paul’s writing.
We will hear this letter proclaimed for a number of weeks in our Liturgy. Actually, it’ll be four weeks in total. Today we hear from chapter three:
“God’s justice that was made known through the Law and the Prophets has now been revealed outside the Law, since it is the same justice of God that comes through faith to everyone, Jew and pagan alike, who believes in Jesus Christ.”
We sense the maturity of the text, both in its reference to the history of salvation and its understanding and application of “God’s justice.”
Paul’s point is this: God is faithful to himself. That is, in creating us God has made a covenant with us. He has promised that he will be faithful to us come what may. He will not walk away, even if we do.
Justice is a very rich virtue. So rich, in fact, that the Greek philosophers claimed that it was a “cardinal” virtue. What do I owe you as a friend, wife, husband, employer, employee, father, mother, sister, brother? And what do you owe me? We sense it’s deeply relational character.
Is Paul, familiar with Greek Philosophy, elevating justice to a new level? Is he saying that God is fulfilling this virtue? In a way not previously understood or comprehended?
He may be. What we know now, not through human reasoning or striving, is that God, in his infinite wisdom and love, owes us big time!
Who would have ever thought this way? That God, in his relationship to us, owes us? Surely, it is we who owe him? But no. Paul is quite clear. God, because he is just, sends his Son as saviour.
He has created us freely. He gave us the Ten Commandments and Prophets to help us and guide us and now we have his Son, sent to heal us and save us.
We belong to him. He won’t fail us. God is just. Faithful to himself. Faithful to us.
I don’t really understand this, I must admit. But I don’t have to. I believe it through that penetrating light we call faith.
Perhaps now, with a little ‘water under the ‘bridge,’ I’m able to understand what happened thirty-five years ago.
Join with me, won’t you, in thanking God this day for memories, for movements of the heart, for Paul, and especially for God. Our faithful and just God.