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Live Lent - Embracing Justice, Week 3

Published: 18th March 2022

Justice as Encounter

by Stephen Edwards, Vice-Dean of Worcester Cathedral

Justice can be such a hard sounding word. We hear it often in the phrases ‘to face justice’ and ‘justice has been done’, and of course we think of it as the antidote to injustice. It is for good reason that someone coming in front of a Justice of the Peace might feel anxious and worried – justice feels to be a heavy thing.

But this week’s theme is that of justice as encounter and although the result of this justice is still as powerful, it is softened by the word encounter. The fact that we are face to face, eye to eye, person to person, means that we see differently. Suddenly justice isn’t simply a blunt process applied to someone else but it is an encounter which brings us into a closer relationship with another. Relationship is key to justice as encounter.

When Jesus encounters the woman with haemorrhages, as we read in Mark chapter 5 (v21-34), the scene is presented in such a way that we imagine, yet again, that the event is rather intrusive. The woman who believes that an encounter with Jesus will bring healing, touches Jesus’ cloak and is healed. The disciples are slightly dismissive of Jesus question ‘who touched me?’ – pointing out that the crowd is so bustling that it could have been anyone. The woman herself is conscious of this when we are told that she comes forward with fear and trembling.

Jesus asks the question ‘Who touched my clothes?’ and we can read this in two ways: we can read it as an outburst, ‘WHO TOUCHED MY CLOTHES?’ as if the woman has gone way beyond what she ought to have done – and indeed the verses which follow lead us to accept this approach. But we can also read Jesus words in a more inquisitive, accepting, and compassionate way, ‘Who touched my clothes?’

Justice is the product of God’s righteousness. In Jesus we see this righteousness revealed in compassion, healing, and salvation. So often we set ourselves against those who seek justice, as if we were judging before understanding. Justice as encounter requires us to meet the person first, to see as Christ sees, to love with God’s righteousness, and then to seek justice out of compassion. Relationships are vital and we all have examples in our lives where our position on something has changed because we have met, one to one, as friends, the person who previously we had judged. Let us encounter Christ in others first, then we shall share in justice as a process of healing and salvation.

 

Page last updated: Sunday 20th March 2022 7:18 AM

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