13 Aug 2015
Some people wonder: if God is a just God, why is there hell and purgatory. If God was really just, they say, God wouldn’t be standing in judgment all the time; instead, he be loving and forgiving all the time. And, really, that’s what Jesus seems to be saying when he says: Forgive others “not seven times but seventy-seven times.” He says: Be forgiving and loving all the time, regardless.
But, really, the justice of God—and justice in its basic sense—is about giving to others what is their due. For example, it’s a matter of simple justice that a newborn receives medical care to ensure its well-being. And in his perfect justice, God gives us what is our due as his beloved creatures.
He gives us autonomy, free will, and is endlessly patient with us. And he wants only the best for us in all things. And so, in that spirit of justice, God won’t ever stomp on our choices or force us to love his ways. No, God respects us and our decisions; he gives us our due as free creatures. And so, he simply responds to us according to what we tell him we want—whether we tell him by our words or our actions.
God is eternally forgiving and merciful, loving and compassionate. God does forgive “seventy-seven times;” over and over again he forgives us. And in his justice, God opens the doors of his Sacred Heart to all those who sincerely want to know him. Nobody is rejected.
The only ones who feel the “sting” of God’s justice are those who intentionally and definitively decide they want nothing whatever to do with God. And what else would a just God say to them, except, “Ok, if that’s what you want. That’s too bad. But if you want the sting of loneliness and anger, the sting of self-hatred and the absence of love, you can have it. It’s your choice.” Of course, the “sting” of God’s justice is entirely self-inflicted.
Our God is an eternally just God. He gives us our due; he respects our freedom and desires as his beloved sons and daughters in Christ. In his love and mercy, he asks us: “What do you want in life, my children?” And in his justice, he gives us what we ask for—nothing more and nothing less. And there’s no trickery involved, just honesty in the heart.
The God of justice gives us what we ask for. And, in return, may we give God his due with a simple and honest prayer of gratitude.