Pope Paul VI, stated emphatically, 'If you want peace, work for justice.'
Sacred Scripture bears this out as the prophets always preceded the saving action of God. Likewise, St. John the Baptist preceded the Christ. The question for us is, in our longing for peace, do we first work for justice? Yet, the second, and even greater question is, whose Justice do we work for?
Do we work for man-made-arbitrary justice, or the Just Mercy of God based on Commandments, Beatitudes, and the Blood of Christ, shed from the Cross of both Mercy and Justice?
"In those days, like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace...You were destined, it is written, in time to come to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD, To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons, and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob." Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11
Unlike the justice of man, God's Justice is Merciful. God's Just Mercy, moreover, is in total cooperation with the human person's free will, while maintaining total fidelity to God's Commandments. How, you ask? God's Justice, which precedes His Mercy, is the human person's freely chosen act of both repentance and forgiveness. For the act of Reconciliation is both Just and Merciful in the eyes of the Lord--an act dependent on the fully cooperative free will of the human person involved.
As the saying goes, 'To err is human, to forgive (and repent) is (from the) Divine.'
"May your help be with the man of your right hand, with the son of man whom you yourself made strong. Then we will no more withdraw from you; give us new life, and we will call upon your name." Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
'God is good, all the time!' God's Justice preceded His Mercy, definitively, in the Christ-child, born poor in the manger. Almighty God, desiring that his children would be purified of their sins through the Cross, sent His first-born Son to become that child for us! And His Son suffered Perfectly! Subsequently, Justice was forever linked in the human story with Mercy in One Perfectly Loving Act.
Consequently, we too can link Justice with Mercy in our cross-borne participation in Jesus Christ. As Catholics, moreover, there is no greater link than in the Eucharistic Life.
"As they were coming down from the mountain, the disciples asked Jesus, 'Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?' He said in reply, 'Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.' Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist." Matthew 17:9-13
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. John of the Cross. This reminds us that God calls prophets in every century, on every continent, to relink Justice with Mercy in obedient faith in Jesus Christ. But we must also remember, as John the Baptist was linked to Christ as Justice's precursor to Mercy, so too is the Christ's suffering linked to the prophets calling.
For obedience to Christ necessitates imitation--both in the Cross, and in Resurrection to Life!