Count Your Blessings
Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16
In 1995, we began seminary studies in Cambridge Massachusetts. One morning I picked up the Boston Globe newspaper, that liberal mouthpiece of one of America's most liberal cities. It was almost shocking to read that a recent action by the Suffolk County (where Boston is the county seat) commissioners approved the option for female attorneys in the county courthouse to be permitted to wear pant suits. It was 1995 and they were just letting women wear pants in the courthouse! It is often said that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but this almost seemed like the 60s, 70s and 80s never happened. Wow.
However funny this may seem to you, it is a clear example of the lowest form of justice - procedural justice. This kind of justice involves changing procedures or policies in order to make things more balanced, fair or equitable.
Then there was the famous Erin Brockovich case where a California utility company dumped toxic chemicals from its boilers into the ground water of a small community. Rare cancers and neurological disorders started appearing and after heroic efforts by a legal assistant to investigate and bring the case to trial, the people in that tiny community won a $333 million settlement. This kind of justice is called distributive justice.
The American legal system functions around this kind of justice. One party is wronged and if they can prove the wrongdoing, then they are awarded some kind of financial settlement to compensate for their injuries. On the surface we would think that the parable of the laborers in the vineyard is about distributive justice. After all the laborers who worked all day expected more than those who only worked one hour. They were indignant about what they considered was injustice in their pay and the landlord replies literally ''Is your eye evil because I am good?'' There is a lot more going on here than simple distributive justice. A lot more ...
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