Pope Benedict XVI's Dream and the Natural Thirst for Justice
it is impossible "that the injustice of history should be the final word." The natural desire for justice is not put in us in vain, and "to protest against God in the name of justice is not helpful," since it brings us to absurdity. (Spe salvi, 44.) Given that we must regard it impossible that the world is not well-made by God, it is both necessary and convincing, in light of Christ's historical Resurrection, therefore, that Christ must return and that we will rise again "for a new life," and that there be a Final Judgment. (Spe salvi, 43.)
As Pope Benedict XVI explained to the parish priests and clergy of Rome on February 7, 2008, in his encyclical Spe salvi he tied the Last Judgment to mankind's thirst for justice. "We all want a just world. Yet we cannot atone for all the destruction of the past, all the people unjustly tortured and killed. God alone can create justice, which must be justice for all, even for the dead, and . . . only the resurrection of the body . . . would be able to create justice."
The resurrection of the body is required so that the acts of injustice done to Moses Roper, to Sadako Sasaki, to Ludwig Brügel, and to Brandon Buchanan in the flesh be recompensed in the flesh, and so that those who in the flesh perpetrated the acts of injustice on Moses Roper, on Sadako Sasaki, on Ludwig Brügel, and on Brandon Buchanan get their just punishments in the flesh.
We must not deprecate the reality of injustice, of sin, of punishment since "both justice and true guilt exist." "Those who have destroyed man and the earth," the Pope continues "cannot suddenly sit down at God's table together with their victims."
Moses Roper cannot be seen to sit down with John Gooch who nearly flogged him to death, Sadako Sasaki cannot be seen to sit down with Giv 'em Hell Harry who ordered the bombing of Hiroshima, my great great uncle Ludwig Brügel cannot be seen to sit down with Adolf Hitler, Brandon Buchanan cannot be seen to sit down with Mohamed Atta, as if nothing happened.
That is not how it works. Yet we must remember that "God creates justice," as Benedict XVI told his priests.
Benedict XVI observed that there are that have been among us, the numbers of which we do not know--though we may hope they are not numerous, and yet we may fear that they are many--that "have destroyed themselves," and who therefore "are forever unredeemable, who no longer possess any elements on which God's love can rest, who longer have a minimal capacity for loving." These died outside of God's grace. "This," the Pope explains, "is Hell." Whether John Gooch, Harry Truman, Adolf Hitler, or Mohamed Atta is there we do not know, though we may have our hunches.
There are a few that "are so pure that they can enter immediately into God's communion." These include the canonized saints--the Blessed Virgin Mary at the apex--with all the "all saints" we celebrate on All Saints' Day.
Most of us mortals who die in God's grace, however, lie between the two extremes--between the holy and the forlorn, between the fully saved and the fully unsaved, between the immaculate Mary and Judas Iscariot, for whom it would have been better had he not been born. (Matt. 26:23) For those between the extremes, "there are so very many wounds" that have to heal. There is "so much filth" that needs to be cleaned. Most of us "need to be prepared, to be purified."
All these wounds must heal, the filth cleaned, the purification done before the lamb lies down with the wolf, and the leopard lies down with the kid. (Cf. Isaiah 11:6) Justice requires it.
"This is our hope: even with so much dirt in our souls, in the end the Lord will give us the possibility, he will wash us at last with his goodness that comes from his Cross." This is Purgatory. "In this way" Benedict XVI states, God "makes us capable of being for him in eternity. And thus Heaven is hope, it is justice brought about at last."
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again in the Last Judgment, and there will be Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. This formula solves the puzzle of apparent injustice in a world we regard as well-made.
The God-Man Jesus is the "Myth of Er," the "Dream of Scipio" become flesh. The Lord Jesus, who was crucified, died, and rose again is Pope Benedict XVI's "dream," yet it is not a dream; it is reality. Among the many witnesses, ask the Apostle Thomas.
Still in doubt? Force the belief and pray: "I believe, help Thou my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)
The belief will satisfy the natural thirst you have for justice.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Justice, resurrection, Pope Benedict, death to life, Andrew M Greenwell
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