justice, goodness, and humility

for decades now, this has consistently been one of my all time favorite bible verses:

“You have been told, O mortal, what is good,

and what the LORD requires of you:

Only to do justice and to love goodness,

and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6: 6-8

amplified in a footnote: “To do justice refers to human behavior in relationship to others. To love goodness refers to the kind of love and concern which is at the heart of the covenant between the Lord and Israel; it is persistently faithful. To walk humbly with your God means to listen carefully to the revealed will of God.”

“doing justice” focuses on right and good human behavior to others. isn’t this a another way to define love? if one takes God seriously, the question is: how do we judge human behavior and the effects on one another?

martin luther king jr expounds upon this idea: “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

king raises the relationship of love and justice with power. power can be used toward love; power can be used to exploit.

to love goodness alludes to the love and concern in God’s covenantal relationship with us. love is primary: nothing can take God’s love away from us. but we can be unfaithful to this love. God’s love is about mercy– unbounded mercy to us. this is pure gift because we cannot earn it. part of staying true to God’s mercy is how we show mercy to others in our actions and relationships. perhaps the strongest and concise verse that shows this call is from the Lord’s prayer, ” forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

to walk humbly– from the commentary– is primarily to listen. ideally, love leads us to doing what our loved one wants for the good of the relationship. in religious terms: to do God’s will. selfishly doing my own will which could be contrary to God’s love harms us and the relationship. how do i listen for and learn God’s will for me, for the world?

to harmonize justice, goodness and humility is not a task for the weak-kneed. there are many forces in the world that want to frustrate these lofty goals. that is fine.

the Holy Spirit will constantly remind us, strengthen us and guide us with the needed graces to step forward. “walking humbly WITH God” bespeaks of a journey of life and faith. with the Spirit, we have nothing to fear on this journey.

let us pray:

Lord, as we gather here today, we listen to the words of the prophet Micah calling us to action, calling us to justice. We invite you to pierce our hearts with these challenging words and let them ruminate there. For this world is hurting, and it is with our hands that you want to bring comfort. This world is wounded, and it is with our hands that you want to bring healing. This world is divided, and it is with our hands that you want to bring reconciliation. Acting justly is no small task in a world so fractured and polarized. And yet, this is what you ask of us as we come together: to act justly. Hear our plea, O Lord, and answer it by drawing near to us now. Bless us that we may be better people: richer in wisdom, friendship, and understanding. We ask this in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit

( https://www.chausa.org/prayers/cha-prayer-library/prayer/to-act-justly )

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