Author: Father Pavel Adelheim
The feelings we experience should not be confused with the thoughts that form or arise from our consciousness. Feelings are real and natural, and thoughts are right or wrong. Everyone has a sense of justice. Rebuke or insult saddens us. We feel sad when our work is not paid, our efforts are not appreciated, and our care is not repaid. Another’s experience deserves sympathy, and it is neither true nor false. Another thing is understanding, when our impressions and feelings are realized, rise to the level of a problem and receive a certain content. From that moment on, the understanding becomes true or false. A natural sense of justice must be distinguished from a true or false understanding of justice.
For some people, the concept of justice includes revenge, considering the feeling of revenge as legitimate, they find its theoretical justification and practical application. If someone hits me, I have to hit him back, because otherwise “impunity will awaken in him an animal instinct for violence”. Children often hurt the weak and defenseless because they want to assert themselves. The same thing happens in the army, in prison, in any human herd where relations are based on the right of the strong. The same thing has recently been observed in the life of the diocese. The bishop is not responsible for exceeding his powers. Lack of constraints leads to arbitrariness. A conflict arises between the sense of justice that humanizes society and the animal instinct for violence. Like lava from a volcano, the flames of base passions erupt on the surface of being: self-assertion, lust for power and violence, indignation, intolerance and anger.
Others believe that compassion for creation and sympathy for man are just and require self-restraint. Such a view finds expression in asceticism, which is relevant not only for Christians. The non-Christian East, Buddhism, etc. are imbued with the idea of not resisting evil with violence, but through mercy and compassion. “What is a merciful heart?”
Saint Isaac the Syrian speaks of “the kindling of the human heart for all creation, for men, for birds, for animals, for demons and for all creatures. At the memory of them and at the sight of them tears begin to fall from the eyes of man. From the great and a strong pity that fills the heart, and with great patience his heart is moved, and he cannot bear, hear or see any harm or little suffering suffered by the creation. Therefore he prays hourly with tears for the speechless, for the enemies of the truth and for those who do him harm, so that they may be preserved and pardoned; and also for the reptiles he prays with great pity, which without measure awakens in his heart to the likeness in all things to God (from Nomad’s Word, 48) .
The Christian must find a clear definition of the concept of justice, so as not to confuse it with either mercy or violence. The Savior Christ gives a definition remarkable for its clarity in the Gospel: “Therefore, in everything, just as you want men to do to you, so do you also to them; for in this the law and the prophets consist” (Matt. 7:12; Luk. 6:31).
The principle of justice commanded by Christ requires one to be active. Not to accept a position imposed on him, but to offer benevolence as the norm of relationships, leading to concessions, sacrifice, and ultimately mercy. This is the context in which we find this principle in the Gospel of Luke. This context helps us understand that justice is the boundary between law and love. Justice is translated by these two words: justice and legality. This is the limit beyond which there is no love. Justice is the lower limit of love.
The perfection of love is self-sacrifice: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend” (John 15:13). Christ emphasizes the perfection of the Shepherd’s love: “The good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). The ladder to perfect love begins with the principle of justice: “Love your neighbor as yourself; do to him as you would have him do to you.” The steps of trust, forgiveness, patience and reconciliation lead to love. By giving yours to the other, you will grow to the point where you will be able to sacrifice yourself for him. This is the height of love. And the foundation of love is justice. Under justice, love is replaced by right. But law is not rooted in the Church. The Church enjoys the law, but its roots live outside the Church. Law makes sense in the Church when love diminishes. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13; 12:7).
Source: “Live Journal” (“Zhivoy Zhurnal”)
About the author: Adelgeim, Pavel Anatolyevich (August 1, 1938, Rostov-on-Don – August 5, 2013, Pskov) – priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, archpriest, cleric of the Pskov diocese, church publicist. Known for his public speeches on problematic issues of internal church life. After his mother was arrested, he lived in an orphanage, then, together with his mother, was in a forced settlement in Kazakhstan, and later was a novice in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. From there, in 1956, he entered the Kyiv Theological Seminary. Expelled by Abbot Filaret Denisenko for political reasons in 1959 and ordained archbishop. Ermogen Golubev as a deacon for the Tashkent Cathedral. He graduated from the Moscow Theological Academy, was appointed a priest in the city of Kagan of the Uzbek SSR in 1964. In 1969 he built a new temple, was arrested, convicted under Art. 190′ (slandering Soviet power), sentenced to three years in prison. In 1971, due to unrest in the ITU of the village of Kyzyl-Tepa, he lost his right leg. He was released from prison as an invalid in 1972. He served in Fergana and Krasnovodsk. Since 1976 I have been serving in the Pskov diocese. Married, three children, six grandchildren. He was stabbed to death in his own house in Pskov on August 5, 2013. As Lenta.ru was informed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the body of the priest was found not far from the church where he served. However, this information turned out to be false, which is confirmed by the testimony of eyewitnesses of the tragedy, including the wife of Fr. Pavel, Vera Mikhailovna. His alleged killer is 27-year-old Muscovite Sergei Pchelintsev. He rushed at Fr. Pavel, shouting: “Satan commanded so!” and stabbed. Before that, he lived with him for 3 days.