May he judge your people with righteousness
and your poor with justice. Psalm 72:2
We entered the small waiting area at the Chicago Police Department (CPD) Headquarters and took our seats. I was there to comply with the Murder Registry law. I had asked Pastor Lueking to join me, wearing his clerical collar. He understood – without explanation – my reason for the request. He was there to enhance my prospects for receiving just treatment.
While we waited, a CPD officer announced that proof of address was required. One man stated that since his release from prison he was homeless. “That’s your problem,” barked the officer, but before he left, Pastor Lueking became that man’s advocate, questioning why the registration could not occur and the verification be done later. In fact, that’s precisely how the law is written.
The officer was taken aback by Pastor Lueking’s intervention, but noticed his age, race, and clerical collar, and knew he couldn’t ignore or dismiss him.
He told the man to go to a Chicago shelter and return with an address. Pastor Lueking asked which shelter and how the man could go and return that day, via public transportation, with no cash. His question went unanswered as we were called in to register. I received just treatment that day, thanks to Pastor Lueking. And, I think, the other man at least left that day feeling that someone valued him enough to stand up for him.
That’s how I’ve experienced justice over the years; not from the systems designed and empowered to provide it, but from God’s servants in this world; frequently from unexpected sources like the juror who expressed her concern for my safety; fellow prisoners who stood up against those who would harm me.
Over the years, I’ve often observed: “The world crucified Christ! Why should I expect better treatment.” In Jesus, who experienced the ultimate injustice, I find not just sympathy for the injustices I have experienced, but empathy. That has motivated me to help others achieve whatever measure of justice we could extract from society. In my view, that’s what Jesus’ sacrifice is all about.
Dear Lord, open our eyes to the many forms of injustice in this world, help us to overcome apathy, and show us how we can play a role in bring justice to those who so desperately need it. In Jesus name, amen.