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What is the meaning of Justice within the Christian reality? by Fr. Anthony Mourad

June 9, 2021

More than ever in today’s world we are facing social dilemmas where people are accusing others of great offense, inequality, oppression, or social injustice. We are constantly bombarded of news of yet another scandal, or another tragedy, or simply more and more examples of how we as human beings have failed to live out our calling as people created in God’s Image and likeness. What should be our response to all this social injustice? Is there even such a thing within the understanding of Orthodox Christianity? In this short series, we will take a look at all this and discuss it together.  

 

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; One God, Amen.  

 

What should be the Orthodox Christian response to Social Injustice? How are we as Christians expected to react when faced with the atrocities and injustices that are often manifest around us in this broken world of ours. Firstly, lets take the time to address an underlying component to this conversation – do we believe in such a thing as social justice. Well, if what is meant by this is the ideology of encouraging a society formed of persons that hold to a standard of goodness and righteousness that is founded in God Himself, then yes of course we believe in this! And scripture gives many examples of this. 

 

Take for instance how the book of Deuteronomy is filled with passages where the Lord teaches His people to care for and be compassionate towards the salve, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. The Lord Himself is always telling them how He Himself cares to administer His justice towards them:  

 

“17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. 18 He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.” (Deuteronomy 10:17-18)  

 

Again, the prophet Malachi speaks to this understanding of Justice when he prophecies to the corrupt people and speaks of the Messenger that is to come into the world. He says.  

 

“And I will come near you for judgment;
I will be a swift witness
Against sorcerers,
Against adulterers,
Against perjurers,
Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans,
And against those who turn away an [stranger]—
Because they do not fear Me,”
Says the Lord of hosts.” 

 

And then in the New Testament we see the Apostle James who summarizes it all for us in an extremely powerful statement:  

 

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)  

 

As a final example we can speak of how the Lord Jesus Himself gives a parable that demonstrates how important the poor are in the yes of God. Jesus speaks this specific parable in Luke chapter 12:  

 

6 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 

 

21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” 

 

From all these passages and many more like them, we can see that the Lord, who is compassionate and loving to all His creation, demands that we all show love and compassion for the less fortunate, the outcast, the stranger, and the oppressed.  

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