Bernard of Clairvaux: Justice

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He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

“God freely promises all things needful to those who deny themselves for love of their neighbors; and to bear the yoke of modesty and sobriety, rather than to let sin reign in our mortal body (Romans 6:12), that is indeed to seek the Kingdom of God and to implore His aid against the tyranny of sin. It is surely justice to share our natural gifts with those who share our nature.

But if we are to love our neighbors as we ought, we must have regard to God also: for it is only in God that we can pay that debt of love aright. Now a man cannot love his neighbor in God, except he love God Himself; wherefore we must love God first, in order to love our neighbors in Him. This too, like all good things, is the Lord’s doing, that we should love Him, for He hath endowed us with the possibility of love.”

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), excerpt from Chapter Eight in his classic work: On Loving God.

My mom often reminds me that today’s Scripture was her father’s life verse. I am thankful for a family legacy that aimed at justice in this biblical sense of the word, that is, denying self in order “to share our natural gifts with those who share our nature” as Bernard put it.

Loving our neighbor is not easy. Thankfully Bernard teaches us how. We need to love God first, who is love and endows us with the possibility of love toward others. So, as 2022 begins, take inventory of your natural gifts and consider with whom you might share to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.