In the first reading from Mass on Friday of this week God answers the question of his “fairness” in dealing with us:
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:25-28)
It is a rather dangerous thing demand that God be fair. How easily we can declare of many circumstances. “That’s not fair!” But when it comes to the Lord, a little friendly advice is helpful: Be VERY careful before you ask God to be fair. If God were fair we’d all be in Hell right now. As it is, God is merciful and none of us have ever really gotten the punishment we deserved. Notice that God answers the accusation that it is unfair for him to punish the sinner in a twofold way:
1. Your Choice – If a person sins and does not repent of it he will die (i.e. descend to hell). But that is his choice to stay in sin and thus incur the cosequence that he dies spiritually and cannot see eternal life. It is our choice that is determinative of this.
2. Choose Mercy! God also answers with a sort of plea that we call on his mercy instead. God is a God of the second chance. And, rather than give us the fairness we seek in a misguided way, we bids us call on his mercy, repent and he will hear and save us. For if a person repent he will live! Scripture says elsewhere: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?‘ (Ezekiel 33:11). Again, God our savior wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). And again, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
If you want God to be “fair,” that is, to use strict justice, cannot you see that we are all in very serious trouble? In the end it is only his grace and mercy that will ever see us through. We ought to have enough humility to banish notions of fairness in our relations with God. Mercy is the only way we stand a chance. Kyrie Eleison!
Picture above from goodsalt.com (right click on photo for URL)
This song says, “You’re the God of the Second Chance.”