By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
LIKE love and freedom,
justice is a big word that means many things to many people.
It has suffered so
much stretching that it often appears distorted, warped and made use
of. Its basic element is forgotten under so much clever overlays,
questionable leavenings or sheer malice. Sometimes we are not even
aware of it.
These distortions and
selfish use of justice, of course, generate their own drama that leads
us to extended conflicts, usually framed within the arena of the
inconsequential aspects of the issue, but not the root of the issues
There’s often much ado
about nothing. Only self-interests are disturbed, feelings strained,
biting discord generated. The higher common good is ignored, the
bigger picture neglected, blinding passions revved up.
They remind us of what
St. James says in his Letter: “Where jealousy and selfish ambition
exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from
above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of
mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.” (3,16-17)
What is this basic
element, or the nucleus of justice? It is none other than an abiding
sense of what we owe to others – first to God, then to others. Our
main problem is that when we see others, we tend to think only of what
they mean or have to do with us.
others-oriented, we are self-oriented. This is a predicament we have
to be more aware of, so we can be properly guided and reminded of our
duties. We need to continually indulge in certain exercises to put us
in the right track. Hopefully the proper attitude becomes second
nature in the future.
Let us examine
ourselves: What do I think every time I see a person, or consider a
person in my mind? If it’s duties we owe to them, then we are starting
to live justice. If we get stuck in the externals and, worse, pursue
thoughts about how they can mean to us, we are taking the wrong turn
of the crossroad.
We also need to
realize ever deeply that justice is an always concern. We don’t think
of it only when big problems – usually causing us some discomfort –
erupt. It has to be a permanent attitude which we put in active mode
both in ordinary and extraordinary situations. It should never be
allowed to sleep.
Obviously, all this
will depend on an objective law of right and wrong, good and evil.
This law just cannot be generated from within oneself. It has to come
from outside us – more correctly, from above us, God himself.
Thus, we need to
understand that justice can only be properly lived if there is an
abiding relationship between a person and God, between a society and
God, between our legal system and God, etc.
For sure, this is
going to be a dynamic relationship which can admit some errors and
confusion. So we need to give allowance to these possibilities. But if
it is earnestly pursued, I’m sure we can see the true face of justice.
Short of that, let’s
not deceive ourselves and say we have justice. We will never have
justice. At best, we can have an appearance of justice, which can be
worse, since it will be a very treacherous kind of justice.
Sad to say, this is
what we have aplenty. Without a strong mooring on God, we go about
trying to have justice in our own conflicting terms. Things can get
worse when the media come in, since another agenda alien to the
original intent of justice can be pursued.
The recent Simala
controversy is an illustrative example. I suppose all parties involved
have a point to make, as in all other controversies. When the media
joins in, usually already with a defined, if hidden, bias, the picture
which in the first place is not supposed to be seen by all, gets more
I wonder what kind of
justice will be achieved here. Just the same, some good can always
come out. In this particular case, I’m happy that allegations about
gay presentations within the shrine are emerging, so that these
anomalies can be corrected, if painfully.
In one Christmas
clergy party (not in Cebu), I was devastated to see a priest, who
acted as the emcee, dressed as a girl with wigs, screaming make-up and
revealing off-shoulder gown. Some bishops were there, and a good
number of the laity also.
This kind of jest
is simply foul!