Lebanon Reporter

Columns

April 11, 2014

The heart of justice is forgiveness, not punishment

Dear Friends, as you read this we are a week away from Good Friday, and the stark imagery of the cross reminds me of the violence and injustice we are able to carry out on our fellow human beings. It reminds me how callous we can become when we demonize another because of who we perceive them to be. The cross is a reminder of the dark side of humanity. However, the cross is also a reminder of the forgiveness that is offered to us because of the one who suffered on that cross. In Luke’s gospel we hear Jesus proclaim on behalf of a ruthless society, “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.”Forgiveness is paramount to the teachings of Jesus. Peter thinks he is being generous when he offers the idea that one should forgive someone who wronged him seven times. Jesus counters Peter’s suggestion with seventy times seven, which means that Jesus is saying we need to forgive in perpetuity. Jesus also says in Matthew’s gospel, “If you do not forgive others, neither will God forgive you.” Forgiveness must be at the heart of a just society, and Christians are called to fight for a just society.I am sure we all remember when we were in school and recited the Pledge of Allegiance and said the words, “…one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.” If we believe that this nation is under the reign of God, then we must believe that liberty and justice are also under the reign of God, and that the reign of God, as revealed through Jesus, is about forgiveness. For a nation that makes the claim to be Christian, it must have forgiveness rather than punishment at the heart of justice. This brings me to the point of this article, and I want to be clear that this is my perception.

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