God, Justice and Concern for the “Unregarded”

Rabbi Heschel cautions that it is not enough to have a regard for the Ground of Being.  We must also have “concern for the unregarded.”  This is another way of saying, “love your neighbor as yourself” and “love God with your whole mind and body and soul.”

Helping the homeless. Photo by Ed Yourdon on Wikimedia Commons.

We are to be the hands of the divine compassion and it is our conscience that urges us.  We respond to a divine challenge, what Heschel calls a “challenging transcendence,” to act out of love and concern for other beings.

Thus God is not only the ground of being but the ground of conscience that challenges us to be bigger and more aware and more generous and more steadfast in our commitment. 

“Conscience is more to be obeyed than authority imposed from the outside” Aquinas tells us.  Being dictates our actions.  Whether we are truthful and facing the truths of human suffering and searching for the causes—and the cures—to human suffering and the suffering of other beings has to do with having a lively and grounded conscience.   

“If You Are Neutral in Situations of Injustice, You Have Chosen the Side of the Oppressor.” Desmond Tutu quote on protestor’s sign at Black Lives Matter protest, Manchester, England, 2020. Photo by Sushil Nash on Unsplash

If we are interdependent with all beings, then surely The Ground of Being challenges us to act on behalf of other beings by our caring deeply and by working fiercely for justice and compassion. 

Eckhart declares that “God is as it were justice itself” and “God and justice are completely one.”  Furthermore, “compassion means justice” since the prophets of Israel make so clear that compassion and justice are interchangeable.  “Compassion is where peace and justice kiss,” declares Eckhart.

Eckhart applies this teaching to our practical work in the world when he observes that “for the just person as such to act justly is to live; indeed, justice is her life, her being alive, her being insofar as she is just.”

“Climate Justice Now!” Art by Nissa Tzun, commissioned by Vince Reinhart, portraying climate heroes Greta Thunberg, Quanna Chasing Horse Potts, and Isra Hirsi. On Flickr.

This same teaching, that God is Justice, is found in Thomas Aquinas who says “to the extent that the just love justice, they will take pleasure in doing just deeds….No one will call that person just who does not rejoice in doing just deeds.”

And Julian of Norwich instructs us that “the working of compassion keeps us in love,” and justice is integral to compassion for “God is Justice.”  

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God, pp. 50f.  

And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 111, 117-120.  

And Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, p. 103.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Refugee camp on the Colombia-Venezuelan border. Photo by Mussi Katz on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you rejoice in doing just deeds?  Don’t you wish everybody did?  How true is it that “peace and justice kiss”?

Recommended Reading

Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God

Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.
“This book is timely, important and admirably brief; it is also open ended—there are always more names to come, and none can exhaust God’s nature.” -Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of Science Set Free and The Presence of the Past

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond

Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.”  –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.

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11 thoughts on “God, Justice and Concern for the “Unregarded””

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    The conscience is the pathway of the heart, in which one can hear that voice within of the Holy Spirit; that offers us wisdom counsel, with regards to discerning our choices in response to all that which we encounter in life; which in my experience is rooted in the ethics and moralities of compassion, love, justice and peace, being intuited; which are for the highest good.

    In listening to my conscience, I have discovered a broader perspective of seeing the, circumstance, event or personality I may be encountering, beyond my own limitations of self and my first emotional reactions that arise. My understanding is also expanded as to the various options available for me to choose in response.

    Following through on what has been spiritually discerned through listening intuitively to one’s conscience, engaging in this relationship with the Holy Spirit and experiencing the spiritual reality of comfort, consolation and wisdom counsel being offered; has become for myself an inner authority that I have learnt to trust in, rely on and depend upon; which has helped me to evolve into courageously becoming a more compassionate, loving human being; whom continously seeks justice and peace within my relationships.

    This courage is actually a willingness to become more vulnerable and openly honest with myself and others, in my learning to stand accountable and be responsive, rather than reactive to whatever I may be experiencing in life.

  2. Avatar

    Divine Love~Wisdom~Creativity…
    Ground of Being~Ground of Conscience~Ground of Compassion~Ground of Peace & Justice…
    Being & Becoming…
    Human & Divine Nature…
    Diverse Loving Oneness…

    There are several ways of expressing God’s Flowing Divine Love Present and Living within, through, among Us in our Eternal Sacred Souls~True Heart Selves, within our beautiful sacred Mother Nature/Earth, and within All ongoing co-Creation~Incarnation~Evolution of our sacred multidimensional-multiverse Cosmos through God’s Loving Diverse Oneness….

  3. Avatar

    In order to do justice, we must first forgive the global systemic injustice, we all participate in. Then while participating less and less we can pursue justice for all. There are many global movements doing, just that. Injustice is the good we can get out of evil acts for ourselves as individuals, like Trump and Putin and Governments, institutions and knowledge of good and evil. The three evils are self importance for each of the above. Power over others, for each of the above and the accumulation of wealth, for each of the above. The Tree of Life is the self importance of each living and lifeless thing, like, sun, water and soil. And the power Life gives us to help ourselves and other is following this one Life, simply by living. This will then give us the wealth of the fullness and abundant Life we all yearn for, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Deacon’82 Environment and Global Interdependence.

    1. Avatar

      Yes Peter, “we must first forgive the global systemic injustice, we all participate in.”

      But many people are not aware that they are participants in the global/military/industrial/dark/money complex which promises peace and security based on their ever burgeoning arsenal of weapons to protect human beings from each other all the while making them rich beyond measure and borders.
      Jesus warned that ‘to live by the sword is to die by the sword.’ If we live by our guns, bombs, and missiles we will die by them. Carl Jung said that “It is a clash between man and God, in which man’s Luciferian genius has produced in the H-bomb the power to destroy more effectively than any ancient god [sic] could.

  4. Avatar

    Do not be mistaken, compassion and justice are one. Both can and should exist simultaneously in each of us. No, we will not be perfect as Christ is in this, but we surrender to becoming so in Divine LOVE. It is not an “easy” life or journey. It is fraught with scorn and condemnation from others…Christ Jesus knew this well. Keep “being” LOVE as best you can surrendered to Them. }:- a.m.

  5. Avatar

    Eventually, justice may kiss peace, but in today’s world, the forces that demand IN-justice are unwilling to also embrace peace.
    For those of us devoted to both, the path is uphill.

  6. Avatar

    Yes, I rejoice in doing just deeds, although to be honest, my motives are often mixed. It is amazing to me how some sayings, trite as they may be, express a deep truth. “Virtue is its own reward” is one such saying that seems to fit in here. I cannot separate peace from justice or separate compassion and conscience from them–they all stem from love as the ground of being. There is no peace for anyone– both peace of mind and absence of violence–without justice. Justice depends on compassion that informs our conscience. If we cannot strive toward a compassionate stance in our individual and corporate lives, I believe we are doomed to be the quickest species in history to become extinct from our own greed for power and neglect of justice.

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