The Cardinal Virtues // Justice

“Lord, grant us the grace to understand the virtue of justice and to actively live it out in our everyday lives.  Constantly convict our hearts of the ways in which we can show a greater reverence to You as well as love our brothers and sisters in Christ with the dignity that you have bestowed upon each of us.”

“I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter and for every work.”Ecclesiastes 3:17

The word justice tends to leave a bad, lingering taste in our mouths, especially my own. I think of justice often by itself, without mercy, and it seems cruel.  Because, justice without mercy would be cruel.  However, we tend to talk a lot about mercy without ever mentioning justice when, really, the two ebb and flow balancing each other out in a perfect dance.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, justice is

the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the "virtue of religion." Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. "You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor."68 "Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven."69 (CCC 1807)

I’ve learned most of what I know about justice from the way that my parents raised me.  

My family enjoys boating together, and we would go on long outings with our cousins.  As a little kid, I would get so tired, and I would let everyone know about all of the ways that I wasn’t getting my way.  My dad would gently throw me into the water, with my life jacket on, to stop me from whining.  It was his form of punishing me and reminding me that that isn’t a virtuous way to act, however, he would graciously accept me back into the boat and love me just as much as he loved me before I was whining. My dad, in this instance, showed me both justice and mercy by correcting my action and never changing his love for me as his daughter. Without justice, I, most likely, would have grown up to be a self-absorbed adult who thinks that I can always have my way.  Without mercy, I would believe that my worth is based solely on my actions and that I can never earn love in my sinfulness.  

Essentially, authentic love is showing both justice and mercy to everyone that we encounter.

To Jesus through Mary-Alyssa Schimmoeller