God will resolve all the injustices

  • August 31, 2023

The deep-down goodness of the “average” person gives me awe. No wonder the psalmist, even after experiencing the worst human beings are capable of, exclaims: “you are gods, children of the most high, all of you” (Psalm 82:6). For, as Jesus reminded His hearers when quoting this verse (John 10:34), we’re capable of receiving the very word of God. When we lose everything else, we must hold on to this truth.

Such awe came to me while talking with Suzette, who’d been hurt by a friend’s gossip and back-stabbing. Because the injury was sneaky, it took a while for Suzette to discover it, by which time her reputation had incurred considerable damage. 

As Suzette wondered, when somebody attacks you behind your back, what can you do? Expose them? Fight back? Give up? None of these seemed right. She didn’t want to harm her friend but needed to redress the injustice.

Injustice needs a resolution, but how do we find it? Sometimes, afraid of making trouble, or getting more hurt, we let it go. This approach might be fine, but might make the problem bigger.  Sometimes we get so angry we do make trouble. Other times we achieve some compensation or truce; human laws, at their best, help with that.

Yet even then, old violences and need of vengeance will break out again, somewhere, with someone, if not ourselves then our children or our neighbors, if not now then later, if not here then there. 

Suzette was feeling the perplexity of this human dilemma. Even when we’re weary of fighting and try not to get into battles, it’s nearly impossible to avoid.

Then she remembered this Scriptural word: “vengeance is mine, says the Lord.” And it gave her peace. She intuitively sensed that God takes on our injustices, in a way that brings not more injustice, but the “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  What does this mean?

We humans can’t leave injustices unresolved. They need and call us to take action. This is a simple truth, an ontological reality we can’t undo any more than we can move the sun. Violent action, however, snares us rather than freeing us. The ultimate impotence of violence is a Biblical revelation, given to a human race that relies upon fighting and force. In saying “vengeance is mine” (Deuteronomy 32:35), God reveals that He takes this problem on for us — not by doing the same thing we would do but with more power, like the old gods, but by accomplishing in us something we cannot do on our own.

In taking on our need of vengeance, God frees us from trying to fight our way to peace.  The injustice becomes God’s problem. The way becomes God’s way. We become able to take that way, if we will. 

The Old Testament shows over and over again God’s persistent mercy in leading us this way. The New Testament shows the lengths God goes to give us the way to make peace. St. Paul shows how we can live “vengeance is mine, says the Lord” (Romans 12:18-19) by taking Christ’s way. Jesus tells, and shows, us the power of peace as a gift, an action, a force. Peacemakers become like the Prince of Peace. Blessed are those who are like Christ in His way of making peace.

Like Suzette, a young couple were harmed by gossip and backbiting. These covert forces hampered and ultimately thwarted the ministry they were involved in. Seeing a good work destroyed this way, they were understandably hurt and angry. They, too, needed resolution. How did they find it without returning “an eye for an eye”? 

They couldn’t simply rely on their willpower to resist the temptation to fight back, they explain. They had to go to their own inner depths. There, inside themselves, they found again conflict and an urge to violence. What could they do? As they put it, they had been brought to the Cross, through prayer.

The Cross, for them, meant learning from Christ how to receive pain without returning it, to forgive without abandoning the work of redressing injustice and to make change by being changed. It meant beginning a different way of service, not abandoning what they were trying to do (which they saw as God’s work) but doing it differently. 

They explain this was possible because they’d already experienced mercy in their lives. Divine mercy wasn’t an idea but a lived truth, that made them want to “do the truth.” It has made them luminous.

Could this be “the peace that passes understanding”?

Suzette saw that in saying “vengeance is mine,” God shows us who we are. We might want to be God, especially when suffering unfairness and aggression, but it’s better to become ourselves:  godlike, capable of receiving God’s word, able to wield the power of peace. It’s not the pain-free way. It’s the way of the Cross.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).

(Marrocco can be reached at mary.marrocco@outlook.com.)