Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
(Jeremiah 23:5-8; Matthew 1:18-25)
Philosophers talk about the “pie rule” as a means to insure justice between two people. They say that if one person is allowed to cut a pie and the other to choose the piece she wants, the pie will almost assuredly be cut into perfect halves. This may be a way to achieve equality, but does it secure real justice? Is justice not a matter of everyone having enough to secure his welfare? Universal welfare is what Scripture means as justice, and the readings today provide examples.
In the first reading Jeremiah looks forward to a king whose name will include the word justice. He will bring security to all Israel. The gospel shows how Joseph is rightly called just by being unwilling to expose Mary, the mother of Jesus, to shame. This refusal probably cost him the woman’s dowry according to Jewish custom. Justice then is more than equality or a fair share. It involves making sacrifice for the good of all. Jesus is the just one who gives himself up to death on a cross so that the world may know God’s love.
We speak of being justified as if it were only the blotting out of our sins. But it is much more. When Jesus justifies us through his death and resurrection by the grace of the Holy Spirit, he offers us the opportunity to reflect his justice. To be sure it requires the development of virtue – no easy task. But it results in advantage for all around us and in our sharing in Jesus’ eternal glory.