Compassion, Mercy, and Justice

Our devotional reflection for Holy Monday comes from spiritual director and Covenant pastor Jane Hutchins-Peterson (Champlin, Minnesota).

He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth… (Isa 42:4a)

It’s the day after Jesus got off the donkey and the days that would change us forever loom ahead. The Old Testament reading is from Isaiah. The compelling and challenging passage is one of four “Servant Songs” found in Isaiah. I commend this first servant song to you: Isaiah 42:1-9.

Honduran T-shirt reading, "Haz Justicia" (Do Justice)
T-shirt from Honduras: “Do justice” — Creative Commons (Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Jesus is our model of servanthood: the Savior who washed his disciples’ filthy feet. We are called to follow his example in real and significant ways. How? By doing the difficult work of looking for root causes of injustice in our culture. As is noted in The Pietist Option, we are often more comfortable being people of compassion and mercy, asking “Who is broken?” and “Who is in need?” rather than “Why does this brokenness exist?” or “How do we address the causes?”

In our lives of private devotion and our lives of public action, may we realize that the two are linked together.

God of love and justice,
let me know and live that they are not separate.
Loving people will do justice,
and just people will do their work with love and respect.
(from Richard Rohr, Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent)