April 27, 2023

Liberty and Justice for All

By Glenn

The Pledge of Allegiance ends with six memorable words: “With Liberty and Justice for All.”  As we say these words, we are setting a standard for our own behavior.  We will fight for liberty and justice for all.

These are very powerful words also embody my Christian faith.  On numerous occasions, priests and Pharisees tried to trick Jesus with complicated questions of law.  Jesus also found his way back to a simple answer: “Love your neighbor.”

“Love your neighbor” is the central message of Judgement Day.  When the Son of Man comes on a cloud, he will separate the sheep and the goats.  The sheep who feed the hungry, clothed the naked, were kind to the prisoner and welcomed the stranger will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  The goats who neglected the hungry, the naked, the prisoner and the stranger will be cast into the fire.

Surviving Judgment Day requires us to Love our neighbor.  Jesus saw this a commandment: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Many of Jesus’ parables give examples of neighborly love.  In the story of the Good Samaritan, a priest and a Levite saw a man lying beaten on the side of the road and “saw him, passed by on the other side.”  Unlike these two outwardly righteous men, a Samaritan showed mercy to the stranger and helped him.

In another story Jesus tells the story of the beggar Lazarus suffering outside the gate of a rich man.  The rich man, like the priest and Levite above, refuses to show mercy to Lazarus.  When they both die, Lazarus ascends to the side of Abraham while the rich man found himself in torment. 

With the tables turned, the rich man wanted mercy in the after life inside of torment.  Abraham told him that it was too late.  The rich man then begged for Lazarus to return and warn his living brothers.  Abraham rebuked him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

Meister des Codex Aureus Epternacensis

Both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke contain an expanded sermon on “Love your neighbor” that starts with “Blessed are the poor.”  Jesus then proceeds to describe righteous behaviors.  For example, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

Jesus wasn’t interested in empty words.  In Luke he says, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.”

We need an American built on a rock.  That rock is Liberty and Justice for All.  We want Liberty and Justice for ourselves.  We must also guarantee it for our neighbor.  It’s the American way.

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