Thursday, March 02, 2017

Lent: Injustice

I realized a while ago how alluring injustice can be, and how easily it beguiles with its appeals to law and order.

There are students right now at my daughter's school who are scared of deportation. You know the drill. Some of them came here before they were old enough to remember. Others were born here, but their parents came without documentation or had it but overstayed their visa. Others are just scared because it feels like brown skin is all its takes these days to make you a target. (I doubt the undocumented immigrants in Manville, who come mainly from Poland and Eastern Europe, are having nearly these difficulties.)

Supporters of the Trump administration's aggressive posture on immigration point to the rules governing immigration. "We're a society of laws," they say. "Follow the rules, or pay the piper."

"Follow the rules." That's something we try to instill in our children from the day they're born. If you track mud on the floor, you're going to clean it. If you play ball in the house, you're going to pay for whatever you break. If you're out past curfew, you're going to be grounded. If the rule of law is upheld, then there is justice.

Well, no. Sometimes the law can be wrong, and upholding it is an injustice. When the law is kind to the wealthy and harsh to the poor, it is an agent of injustice. When the law is harsh and demands more than is reasonable, it is a vehicle of injustice. When the law acts without mercy and demeans the value of those it prosecutes and punishes, then the law undermines its own authority, cheapens its own value and makes Justice its enemy.

My faith teaches me that the principle of the law is more important to Justice than the letter is, and that people are the most fundamental part of all. When Jesus saw how the law was used to push people to the side, to shame them and to remind them that their place was outside, he took their place.

We all know how that worked out for him.

I have no doubt where Jesus would stand on deportation. May God grant us the opportunities to take his side, and the courage to seize them.

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