April 17, 2024

The biblical reading on Holy Monday, Isaiah 42:1-7, mentions justice and covenant. Equality is not synonymous with justice. Contract is not the same with covenant.
Equality can be unjust in other situations. Justice will look at the situation not merely on what is visible to the eye. We might be struggling for equality but what we need is justice.
Juan dela Cruz was given a sack of rice for a month to cope up with the quarantine. Juan is single and receives a good salary. He has a good business.
Juana dela Cruz is a widow and she has five young children.
By virtue of equality, both must receive one sack rice each. But justice will not do that. Justice will look into the situation and it can as well give three sacks of rice to Juana. By human standard we say, “It’s not fair. We must receive one sack of rice each.”
If we will always equate equality with justice, we will be in chaos. We cannot be a part of the solution. God is a God of justice. He gives what is due to each and every one of us.
Fr. Michael Tokoyen mentioned about these two themes in one of our conversations regarding Mayor Gabino Ganggangan who decided that relief goods meant for residents of Sadanga should be given to those who need them more. “There are people who are more in need of the rations. Give it to them.” I called it charity in justice. Knowing our needs and our capacity to self-reliance and ingenuity, we may waive the rations for others more in need.
Justice was also shown to us by Mary in the gospel story. (John 12: 1-11) Jesus defended Mary from the impure thoughts of Judas. Judas said, “Why was this oil not sold for 300 days wages and be given to the poor?” Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you don’t always have me.” Mary, her sister Martha, and Lazarus gave Jesus a good treat at home not as a payment but an act of justice for His goodness. She anointed His feet as an act of gratitude for the mercy, forgiveness and the greatness of Jesus. She did justice.
A contract is not the same with a covenant. A contract is an agreement between two “equal parties.” I say equal parties despite the human hierarchy.
An employee makes an agreement with his manager. In the human structure, we say they are not equal. But they are equal by virtue of their humanity. Nobody is exempt from the painful human realities such as sickness, suffering, aging, and even death. Death really speaks about our equality. Death is the final equalizer that tells us, we will all die and be buried.
We see the situation today. Both rich and the poor, sick and healthy, young and old are all vulnerable to the virus.
A contract can also speak about the relationship of a wife and a husband. Both are human beings who made vows together in the eyes of human authority and human law. Contracts can easily be broken, but not a covenant.
We can better understand now the necessity of presenting the marriage contract to the sacrament of matrimony. The couple makes an agreement with God to be faithful and in effect the relationship of the husband and wife be tied as well in faithfulness. No room for adultery and divorce.
We go back to the covenant relationship in the old, “I am your God and you are my people.” It was mentioned many times in the scriptures, Genesis 17:7, Exodus 6:7, Ezekiel 34:24, Ezekiel 36:28.
God made a covenant with his people. He provided faithfulness as the rule that should protect the agreement and relationship. We sometimes became unfaithful but God remained faithful.
The agreement of man and woman must be transcended to a covenant and that is the only way we can make divorce irrelevant. The man and woman married in the contract must present their relationship with God. As a couple they will make an agreement with God dubbed as a covenant relationship where divorce has no place.
Jesus is helping us today to live a just life and not merely a life of equality. Second, his paschal mystery is reminding us to uphold our covenant relationship with God. A holy covenant is an agreement between two unequal parties. This is an agreement that speaks no longer about human relationship but divine relationship.
Upholding the covenant is doing justice. Being an Easter people, we move with our living faith. We live with our living God. Let Easter give us more hope to see what’s behind the Covid-19 and become better believers in Jesus.
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