It is right and just
In Summa Theologica, St. Thomas defines justice this way: “a habit whereby a person renders to each one his due by a constant and perpetual will.” Sometimes we think of justice as punishment and St. Thomas leads us to stretch beyond this way of thinking.
In modern times,that is, the last 150 years, the Church has expanded the understanding of justice being what is due to an individual to include an understanding of how institutions and even society itself must act. We, individually and collectively must always act with respect for our inherent dignity simply because of the fact that we are human beings.
What is it about being human that gives us this respect? Why humans particularly? Certainly, all creation speaks of God’s goodness, and deserves, even demands our respect as a gift from God, our Creator. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote passionately about the sacredness of all creation.
Three reasons have been put forth by theologians from ancient to modern times. One is that we are created by God in His image and to respect the created is to respect the One who created.
A second reason is that we are made for God; being with God is the end for which we are created. Everyone, no exceptions, was created to be with God. We are expected to treat each other accordingly; it is a matter of justice.
Another reason is that we share our humanness with Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the second person of the Trinity. This reason begs us to stop and not think, but just to be in awe of God’s generosity, God’s overwhelming gift giving.
During the Eucharistic Prayer, the presider says to us, “Let us give thanks and praise.” Our response is, “It is right and just.”
In the spirit of true justice, when we pray this response we are giving to God what is due to God.
Our prayer is one of praise because God deserves it. God is God, no one and nothing else is, and this prayer gives us the opportunity to proclaim this overwhelming, stunning, and gracious truth.
Peggy Guerrero serves on the Jordan Ministry Team.