Sunday, March 09, 2008

the just man is obnoxious to us

Wisdom talks about our knee-jerk revulsion at those without the stain of sin. Because we are unjust,we find the truly just man unsettling and therefore seek to first make him ugly, then erase him; all as a challenge to God who should defend his own.

Wisdom 2,1.12-22.
They who said among themselves, thinking not aright: "Brief and troublous is our lifetime; neither is there any remedy for man's dying, nor is anyone known to have come back from the nether world. Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, Because his life is not like other men's, and different are his ways. He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him."

This text is echoed by Plato in bk 2 of The Republic, where the discussion is about this same fear and rejection of the just man from a philosophical rather than prophetic angle. But Plato seems to imply that the just man - if truly just -will willfully accept this poor treatment to demonstrate his claim to justice is not for self glorification. Truer word have never been spoken.

Now, if we are to form a real judgment of the life of the just and unjust, we must isolate them; there is no other way; and how is the isolation to be effected? I answer: Let the unjust man be entirely unjust, and the just man entirely just; nothing is to be taken away from either of them, and both are to be perfectly furnished for the work of their respective lives. First, let the unjust be like other distinguished masters of craft; like the skilful pilot or physician, who knows intuitively his own powers and keeps within their limits, and who, if he fails at any point, is able to recover himself. So let the unjust make his unjust attempts in the right way, and lie hidden if he means to be great in his injustice (he who is found out is nobody): for the highest reach of injustice is: to be deemed just when you are not. Therefore I say that in the perfectly unjust man we must assume the most perfect injustice; there is to be no deduction, but we must allow him, while doing the most unjust acts, to have acquired the greatest reputation for justice. If he have taken a false step he must be able to recover himself; he must be one who can speak with effect, if any of his deeds come to light, and who can force his way where force is required his courage and strength, and command of money and friends. And at his side let us place the just man in his nobleness and simplicity, wishing, as Aeschylus says, to be and not to seem good. There must be no seeming, for if he seem to be just he will be honoured and rewarded, and then we shall not know whether he is just for the sake of justice or for the sake of honours and rewards; therefore, let him be clothed in justice only, and have no other covering; and he must be imagined in a state of life the opposite of the former. Let him be the best of men, and let him be thought the worst; then he will have been put to the proof; and we shall see whether he will be affected by the fear of infamy and its consequences. And let him continue thus to the hour of death; being just and seeming to be unjust. When both have reached the uttermost extreme, the one of justice and the other of injustice, let judgment be given which of them is the happier of the two.

(Socrates - GLAUCON)
Heavens! my dear Glaucon, I said, how energetically you polish
them up for the decision, first one and then the other, as if they were two statues. I do my best, he said. And now that we know what they are like there is no difficulty in tracing out the sort of life which awaits either of them... They will tell you that the just man who is thought unjust will be scourged, racked, bound --will have his eyes burnt out; and, at last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be impaled: Then he will understand that he ought to seem only, and not to be, just;

And isn't that exactly what the Sanhedrin was tyring to tell Jesus?? Isn't that what the secular world is constantly telling those who teach that truth is objective? Isn't that what the leftist apologists for relativism within the Church tell those who believe we should accept the magisterium; don't they strive to neuter those who insist that Jesus Christ is the one Lord, one Way, one Truth and one Life? There's nothing new under the sun.