Seek justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God. What then is required of us as we try to do — or to find — goodness, justice, love, and mercy in the wake of the tragedies that seem to appear every day of the week?
Justice. There is no justice in the death of 50 people killed for being true to who they are. Justice is defined as the quality of being just; a definition of just is true, or in keeping with truth. An analysis is just if it is in keeping with the facts. Seeking justice. Seeking truth. How do we go about truth and justice in the face of tragedy, especially tragedy that cannot be just as it flies in the face of truth?
Perhaps it starts with ourselves. Within our souls, hearts, and minds. Embracing the painful truth of our own country and our emotions. Seeking to do justice by mourning and sitting with the sorrowful, and the fearful, and the hurt, and the shell-shocked. We do justice by being true to who we are.
Terrorism is done to induce fear. To make a statement and cause terror. Justice is truth in the face of terrorism. Justice is truth and true community in the face of what aims to destroy truth with an absence of justice. Our truth and justice in the aftermath look a lot like love.
Justice is being true to the nature of what we have seen and what we now must live. It is setting aside the promise of attention or the draw of political gain in order to give grief what grief often demands: time. It is caring for one another on a day when love and kindness are anything but common.
Love mercy. Mercy, mercy, mercy — it has become our mantra, our rallying cry. Loving sometimes means longing for something we cannot see. Honestly I have never truly defined mercy. It seems to me that mercy is something that is more easily experienced.
Mercy in unity and the love of friends. Mercy in tears and in incense and in candlelight. Mercy in not reacting to hatred with more hatred (“violence begets violence…”). Mercy in not creating enemies when it is so much easier to react.
Mercy in remembering that when the actions of one say otherwise, it does not mean that all who look the same are unmerciful. Mercy is putting down the swords we instinctively brandish when our fight or flight response is tested. Mercy is turning away from the weapons and the anger and the hatred and turning instead to love those who are hurting. Mercy is facing hurt with love. Even when it is hurt we have done. Especially when it is hurt we have done.
Walk humbly with your God. Our God who takes the face of the least of these. Our God who goes out among the broken. Walking humbly into the hurt spaces. Embracing friends whose community has just been targeted. Maybe we walk humbly by closing our mouths and respecting the grief of someone even if we don’t often agree with them.
Perhaps we walk humbly in silence. Perhaps we do not try to explain. Perhaps we seek only to be present in love. Perhaps we walk humbly by staying on the path. Long after the eyes of the nation have moved on to the next tragedy, the next scandal, the next sensational news. After the general public has stopped walking and gone home. Maybe we walk humbly by continuing the walk with the broken until the walk is no longer necessary, should we be alive to see that day.
And until then…
Until then we live truthfully, true to ourselves and true to our God. We love mercy in acting mercifully, in love and in truth-seeking, in care for neighbor and stranger and enemy, in comfort for hurt and for healing. We walk with our God in truth, justice, mercy, love, and faith. Until our walk is over. Let us walk hand in hand. Let us redefine mercy and justice. Let us live in truth, in hope, in faith, but most of all, in love.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8 (revised Sam version)