Day 29 – Fairness Vs. Justice




"Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf. "

(Luke 15:29-30)

The elder son felt very defeated to know that the Father was celebrating the younger son's return. Not only did he feel unappreciated and casted aside, but he also felt that he was unfairly treated by his father.

He couldn't help but put under the microscope the difference between the father's treatment of him and his brother.

Collecting evidence not only helped him to justify his thoughts and actions, but it also serves as a convincing accusation against the people who had "offended" him, in this case, his father and his brother. It helped to build up his case before the court, so to speak.

So, he tended to remember every detail of the incident and the events that followed. He kept a perfect record of every word spoken. He tried to analyse the case to his favour, oftentimes through laying blames on others by finding faults in them, in their words and their actions.

That is why the elder son tried to remind his father of what had happened as if the father had memory loss or did not know what he was doing. And to make his case more convincing and his justification stronger, he made assumptions about others' intentions and tried to interpret things that helped build up his case. These are some common behaviours of those who believe that they are victimized and justice was not upheld.

We tend to mix up fairness with justice. "Fairness" is subjective and relative by nature. We often take sides when we talk about fairness. It is rarely presented fairly and objectively. Fairness to one side is oftentimes unfairness to the other. What is "fairness" then if it is biased? On the other hand, justice should be perceived and exercised objectively. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the virtue of justice this way:

Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbour (CCC 1807). What is due to our neighbours depends on what are rightfully theirs, which ties to their needs or interests. Without this concept we tend to protect our own interests instead. Justice, when perceived and exercised in this light, should detach us from judging others. It should elevate us to look beyond. It should liberate us from all sorts of bondages and chains manifested in the elder son. It should enable us to see from the father’s and the giver’s perspective.

Besides, graces and gifts are freely given to us by God unconditionally. They are not earned. It is not transactional in nature. As such, those gifts and graces are to be freely received by us.

In the spirit of "freely receiving those gifts", we should not fixate our eyes on the reasoning behind the giver's choices which we are unable to comprehend and we do not have the right to cast any doubts.

Whenever we receive such gifts, we should not challenge how the givers handle and distribute their riches. They have the full right as to how they use their possessions. It helps to remind ourselves of the morality behind the parable of The Workers in the Vineyard in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 20 (Matthew 20:1-16). It talks about the story of a generous and merciful landowner paying the last labourers who worked only one hour the same as the fist labourers who worked for the whole day. It is a very controversial parable that brings about debates between the landowner's and first labourers' camps of thought, yet it offers us Christians valuable spiritual enlightenment about the nature and beauty of God's graces for us.


Do you have a tendency to keep a perfect record of how others have offended you?

Do you find yourself enslaved by unforgiveness which you are unable to break away from?

Would you like your Heavenly Father to set you free from the prison of unforgiveness?


Dear Abba Father, the more I understand the beauty of Your graces for us, the more I appreciate Your ways which are much higher than our ways. I have begun to realize that my concept was so mixed up and I was locked up in my own little world. It has incapacitated me from moving beyond my own ego to embrace others and empathize with their situations. I am like a prisoner of my unforgiveness. Lord, it is You who have enlightened me. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your holy spirit from me. (Psalm 51:12-13)

I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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