So I say to you, “I’ll give you $20 if you wash and wax my car.” And you say, “Deal”. So you wash and wax my car but, contrary to our agreement, I only give you $10. “Hey, you owe me $10!”, you cry. “I changed my mind”, I say, “and besides, you used my bucket and soap!”
Besides never washing my car again, you’ll continue to remind me that I owe you 10 bucks. Why? Be-cause we made a deal, recognized by law. I was legally obliged to pay you $20 (in a larger case, you’d take me to small claims court).
So, knowing you’d probably tell everyone in Webster that I’d stiffed you, I finally decide to pay you the full amount. Our friendship will still need repair but at least JUSTICE IS SERVED. Justice is giving to another what they deserve or have a “right” to.
So, you get into your shiny clean car and race across the Bay Bridge when suddenly you see those scary red and blue flashing lights in your mirror. “License and registration please,” says the officer. (you were going 68 in a 55 zone). Turns out to be $125 to the town court. Justice served.
We get the idea sometime that justice is the highest form of human relationship . . . to give everyone what they deserve makes for a happy well ordered society. That may be true for a community wracked with poverty and crime – – – justice is a blessing. But, in the Christian perspective justice is the minimum that is expected of us. It’s no big deal to be “just”.
We are called to a higher level of relationship. We are to be a people of Mercy. The Webster dictionary defines mercy as “kindness in excess of what is deserved or demanded by fairness”.
We see it everywhere in the Gospels. Jesus tells us:
“love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you.” Mt. 5:44
“Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” Lk. 23:34
“If someone asks for your coat, give them your shirt as well, to walk a mile, walk with them for two miles.” Lk. 6:27
The father put the gold ring and royal cloak on his wastrel son, because “He was lost, but now he is found.”
The laborers received a full day’s wage for just one hour’s work. Mt. 20:8
And, St. Paul marvels at the mercy of God when he declares, “that while we were still sinners and ene-mies of God, Christ died for us.” Rm. 5:5
So, this second Sunday of Easter is called Divine Mercy Sunday. We are called to acknowledge God’s mercy in our own lives (the countless times I’ve re-ceived more from life and God than I ever deserved). And, in the joy of the Resurrection we have the grace to offer mercy to those who have offended us in some way.
Happy Easter . . . 50 days of it!!