Justice has to yield to mercy
That’s right! At the end of the day, justice has to give way to mercy. If we follow Christ, this is what we should do. In his most unfair trial, Christ remained silent when he could have defended himself abundantly. But he remained quiet and allowed the erratic wheel of human justice to roll on.
He did it only for one sole purpose — to redeem us. He had to pay for the debt we could not pay. He had to assume all the sins of men, die to them so that with his resurrection, we also would have a way to recover our dignity as children of God if we also die with Christ.
Christ remained silent because it was his time to go, to complete his mission. He just allowed himself to be treated with the severest injustice there could ever be in this world—condemning God through our own human system of justice. That is how much Christ loves us!
This is a point worth our serious consideration if only for us to try to approximate that attitude. Yes, we need justice, and full justice at that. But we have to understand that our justice can only do so much. It cannot capture the whole dignity of man no matter how bad a man may be. At the end of the day, it has to yield to a higher virtue which is mercy.
Our human justice can only do so much because even if pursued with all the due processes involved, we still can not know everything about the person concerned. At best, we can only judge on the basis of what we know. Yet even in this, we always have a strong tendency to overstep. We can go to the extent of executing a person.
Besides, our human justice is usually instigated by anger and the desire to make even or to have revenge with someone who may have done us wrong. It is not totally inspired by charity. Some self-interest dilutes it.
Yet, if we look at Christ’s example, we know that Christ offered forgiveness to everyone, including those who crucified him. “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they are doing.” He found excuses for them, and continues to do so for all of us, because each one of us is precious to him. Justice cannot have the last word for us. It’s mercy that has the last word.
If pursued with the mind of Christ, our mercy will allow the full strength of God’s grace to work on us. Our mercy will embody the very love of God for us. It will enable us to love everyone, including those who give us problems. It will make us unafraid of suffering for the sake of others. In fact, suffering becomes a genuine sign of true love.
We need to see to it that we learn how to be merciful the way Christ is merciful with everyone of us. And everyday, we actually are given many opportunities to live mercy that goes beyond justice.
When we take the initiative to love and understand people, irrespective of how they are and what they may have done, we are already practicing mercy. When we are quick to disregard differences and just work for the common good, when we try to find excuses for the weaknesses if not the mistakes of others, we are clearly being merciful.
We should try our best to be above purely human considerations in our dealings with others, and just follow the example of Christ. That way we would know how to make justice give way to mercy.*
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