Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and be sated with their own devices (Proverbs 1, 31)
The wages of sin are death (Romans 6, 23)
Injustice is inevitable. The past and present are littered with injustices – and the future will be as well. Injustices have happened as a result of the Fall of Adam and Eve and their foolish pride. We can think of Cain who killed Abel, an immediate consequence. But injustices can be national, social and personal. We in England can think of the fateful injustice of 1066, from which we still suffer, in Greece they think of 1204 and 1453, and in Russia, and throughout the Church and the world as a whole, no-one has ever recovered from the fateful injustice of 1917. Some people fight against injustices with wars and revolutions. These always seem to do more harm. So how should we deal with injustices, so we do not become obsessive and have ‘bees in our bonnets’?
First of all, we know that God is the only Just Judge, as He is the only Knower of the human heart. We know nothing, for we see only the outside, we are poor judges. And we know that God will judge all at the Last Judgement, all without exception. And we know that we already have a foretaste of His Judgement now. Just as the foretaste of heaven and hell begins now, as people choose and create their own little heaven or hell, so His Judgement begins now. Wars are His judgement of the nations. For evil is always punished – sometimes sooner, sometimes later. God’s Judgement alone is just, because all our human judgements are tinged with vengeful pride and vanity; only His Judgement is objective because it alone is the pure judgement of humility.
We can see this clearly in the Life of St Job the Much-Suffering in the Book about him, in which only his humility was justified. We can see this clearly in the Life of St John Chrysostom, who died in cruel exile from an evil empress, uttering the words: ‘Glory to God for all things’, words which the vengeful world does not understand. We can see this clearly in the Life of the much-slandered and Job-like St Nicholas the Tsar-Martyr (still slandered today), who in cruel exile wrote before his martyrdom that ‘it is not evil that will conquer evil, but only love’. A few years after that we can see this clearly in the Life of the much-slandered St Nectarios who died in cruel exile (when he would have been the Patriarch of Alexandria who had at last baptised Black Africa).
But what about when injustices happen to us personally, at work, in the family and especially in Church life? How do we deal with them? Ascetically, injustices are very dangerous because they can make the hearts of the victims hard, vengeful, bitter, cynical, full of negativity and sarcasm, thus poisoning the victims of injustice, making them into ‘damaged goods’. We must protect ourselves from such sinful feelings. We should know that we have survived not because of those who call themselves Christians but are not, but in spite of them. We follow Christ, His Holy Mother and the Saints, not corrupt men who have no love, whatever clerical rank they may have. We do not deal with such people: God deals with them. He always does. Be patient, you will see.
I have in over forty years of Church life suffered four cases of injustice in Church life. One ROCOR archbishop told me that if he had suffered what I had had to, he would have left the Church and never returned. However, I do not leave, but tremble when the perpetrators are unjust to me. And I do not tremble for myself, I tremble for them, because I know that they will suffer, for they are bringing awful punishment on themselves, as they always end up badly, sooner or later. I fear for them. I do nothing against their injustice, that is, I only pray for those who do me injustice, because they will suffer the most horrible punishment, they always do. They burn themselves, for they put their hands into the all-consuming fire of God (Hebrews 12, 29).
In the first case of these four people, the perpetrator died, his vainglorious personality, which he had made all-important, is discredited and now they are attempting to erase it from history. Seeking popularity and fame, he found unpopularity and infamy. The second one, who was so weak that he stood by no principles and so despite himself betrayed the Faith, died soon after his injustice and is now forgotten, destroyed by his very weakness. The third, who wanted to gain everything, has put himself in self-imposed isolation, having lost everything. And the fourth was dismissed for his support of the powerful and evil and rejection of the good and faithful. Seeking prestige and power, he lost prestige and power, never listening to others, now he is not listened to.
As the Book of Proverbs says above, people are always punished by what they sin with. Their lack of love, their chosen instrument of hatred, becomes their own punishment. I have seen God’s Judgement and it is a terrible thing because those who put the things of men above the things of God and so, consciously or unconsciously, become evildoers, always die: ‘All who hate me love death’ (Proverbs 8, 36). True, the evil that men do lives on after them, but I tremble for them all, as I do for myself, when God judges, as He surely will, each one of us for our lack of love. ‘Be ye faithful, not faithless’. As we said at the start, injustice is inevitable, but inevitable also is the Judgement of God. ‘The paths of glory lead but to the grave’. I tremble.