God Does Justice by Restoring Things Instead of Punishing Them
Meditation 40 of 52
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me … he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners. — Isaiah 61:1
In this reading from Isaiah, the prophet describes the coming Servant of Yahweh. It is precisely this quote that Jesus first uses to announce the exact nature of his own ministry (Luke 4:18-19). In each case Jesus describes his work as reuniting things that have in any way lost their divine state, or been marginalized or demeaned by society.
Jesus’ ministry is not to gather the so-called good into a private country club and punish the outsiders, but to reach out to those on the edge and on the bottom, those who are “last,” to tell them they might just be first! That is almost the very job description of the Holy Spirit, and therefore of Jesus. Some call it God’s unique kind of justice or “restorative justice.” God justifies things by restoring them to their true and full identity in Himself, as opposed to “retributive justice” which seeks only reward and punishment. To receive unearned love is their only punishment.
Adapted from Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr, pp. 36-37
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