6.10 Is modern justice different from biblical justice? Why doesn't the good guy always win? Are charity and justice related? Is reporting a crime betrayal?
The Bible implores us to return to God and “hold fast to love and justice” (Hos 12:6). We should hunger and thirst for justice, but always with mercy as our utmost desire (Mt 5:6-7). Justice alone cannot change the world: only love can. Jesus revoked the Old Testament “eye for eye” (Deut 19:21), and warned us not to repay evil for evil (Mt 5:38-44). That shows the intimate link between charity and justice. Our judicial systems are as imperfect as the humans who operate them, so that unfortunately justice is not always served.
It is a Christian duty to strive for justice to prevail, especially for poor and marginalised people. If we suffer injustice, we can look at Jesus, the only truly just man, who also suffered unjustly. Reporting a crime to a reasonably trustworthy juridical system is no betrayal but a service to humanity. The Bible tells us to first quietly speak to a brother or sister who wrongs us, and when they do not listen to report them to the leaders of the community (Mt 18:15-17).
What is justice?
Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbour. Justice toward God is called the "virtue of religion." Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. the just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbour. "You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour” (Lev 19:15). "Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven" (Col 4:1) [CCC 1807].
Every society draws up its own system of justice. Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is ‘mine’ to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is ‘his’, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting. I cannot ‘give’ what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains to him in justice. If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is inseparable from charity [Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 6].