'Divine justice' focus of Holy Father's Lenten message

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI


Today Pope Benedict XVI made public his Lenten message for 2010 emphasizing “divine justice” which, he noted, “is profoundly different from it's human counterpart.” In his reflection, the Pontiff touched on the fact that modern man has a tendency to focus on alleviating external concerns regarding injustice yet often fails to look internally, where the origin of  injustice lies.

The Holy Father began his message on the common, human usage of the term “justice” saying that it is generally defined as every person receiving what is “due” to them.

“In reality, however, this classical definition does not specify what 'due' is to be rendered to each person,” explained the Pope. “What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law. In order to live life to the full, something more intimate is necessary that can be granted only as a gift: we could say that man lives by that love which only God can communicate since He created the human person in His image and likeness.”

“Material goods are certainly useful and required - indeed Jesus Himself was concerned to heal the sick, feed the crowds that followed Him and surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water and medicine - yet 'distributive' justice does not render to the human being the totality of his 'due,'” Pope Benedict added.

“Just as man needs bread, so does man have even more need of God.”

The Pope also spoke on the roots of injustice and noted that man often mistakenly believes that it originates outside of him, as something that needs to be dealt with externally. “Many modern ideologies deep down have this presupposition: since injustice comes 'from outside,' in order for justice to reign, it is sufficient to remove the exterior causes that prevent it being achieved.”

“This way of thinking - Jesus warns - is ingenuous and short-sighted,” Pope Benedict cautioned.  “Injustice, the fruit of evil, does not have exclusively external roots; its origin lies in the human heart, where the seeds are found of a mysterious co-operation with evil.”

“In order to enter into justice, it is thus necessary to leave that illusion of self-sufficiency, the profound state of closure, which is the very origin of injustice.”

The Holy Father continued to say that the “Christian good news responds positively to man's thirst for justice” but not by human means or understanding. “What then is the justice of Christ? Above all, it is the justice that comes from grace, where it is not man who makes amends, heals himself and others.”

“God has paid for us the price of the exchange in His Son, a price that is truly exorbitant,” explained Pope Benedict. “Before the justice of the Cross, man may rebel for this reveals how man is not a self-sufficient being, but in need of Another in order to realize himself fully.”

“Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this,” he continued, “to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one's own need - the need of others and God, the need of His forgiveness and His friendship.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, Lent culminates in the Paschal Triduum, in which this year, too, we shall celebrate divine justice - the fullness of charity, gift, salvation,” the Holy Father concluded. “May this penitential season be for every Christian a time of authentic conversion and intense knowledge of the mystery of Christ, who came to fulfill every justice. With these sentiments, I cordially impart to all of you my apostolic blessing.”

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