Psalm 23; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; John 10:11-18

Our World defines justice as retribution, payback; an eye for an eye.
But the deeper meaning of justice is an even distribution:
the rain falls on the good, the bad, and the ugly
without partiality.

Civilization has led to systems for assuring the safety and security of citizens,
but those systems often exclude the poor, the uneducated,
all who have no economic or social power.

Those who are denied access to such powers often become ensnared
in activities deemed anti-social or criminal in order to survive,
and the response of Our World is retributive punishment

A system of distributive justice would not demand payback for such activities,
but would provide solutions: reeducation, rehabilitation, redress of grievances.
This is the non-violent,inclusive, redeeming nature of the kingdom of God.

Within the Kingdom of God, no one is judged by circumstance,
for everyone is presumed to be capable of transformation;
for everyone may acquire access to a new life:
to assurance of food, clothing, shelter,
hope, medical care and peace
regardless of who they are
or where they come from.

Paul writes of a new creation...see, everything has become new!
and the transformation is ongoing, now for two thousand years,
we are called to participate in a new creation
a world based on letting go and sharing
rather than keeping and greed.
Pauls interpretation of Christ is of transformation;
not of of domination, violence and eventual victory.

Jesus was the one chosen by God to be the one to restore His Kingdom.
In place of retributive justice, in place of law,
the Christ establishes radical fairness.

The servant of God gives up the power of imperial civilization.
The servant of God rejects pay-back or retribution.
The servant rejects reward and glorification;
works to establish the justice of God.

When we let go of self-interest, ego and survival tactics.
We struggle against the normalcy of civilization.
In the same way that Jesus did
We struggle for justice.

Paul urges the community in Philippi to have the same mind that Jesus had.
Paul invites us to a radical abandonment of self-interest.
Paul writes about creating the realm of God on earth.
In such a realm, greed has no place, and debt has no power.
Such a realm involves total commitment to distributive justice,
which can (and often does) lead to death at the hands of imperial systems.

As soon as we abandon justice-compassion,
or ignore the consequences of our actions that lead to unjust systems,
we are caught in the powerful currents that propel civilizations into empires.

Empire comes from organized societies,
but the good news is that Empire is not inevitable.
The followers of Jesus included the marginalized, those beyond hope.
Jesus pointed away from himself toward the discovery within his followers
of a realm in which distributive justice-compassion held, and holds, sway.
His life and death were illustrations of a radical abandonment of self-interest.
That is the promise and the hope of Easter and of a resurrection faith.

Paradoxically, as the life and death of Jesus taught,
to give up our life means to claim it irrevocably as our own.
Psalm 23 assures us that when the radical abandonment of self-interest
leads anyone into the valley of death, there is nothing to fear.
The table is set, the cup is poured out,
we are anointed, and ordained.