“Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.”
This passage immediately reminded me of the recent apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium [The Joy of the Gospel], by Pope Francis. The Pope reminds the world that hoarding money and property harms the poor everywhere in the world; he reminds us that “trickle-down” economics does not work – no matter how much we may wish that it does, and no matter how long we have been fooling ourselves into thinking that it works. The Pope criticized unrestrained capitalism. Note that he didn’t denounce capitalism itself, but rather unrestrained capitalism. The problem is caused when lying, cheating and stealing are advocated in order to grow in wealth. Lying, cheating and stealing are apparent everywhere with unrestrained capitalism.
Pope Francis teaches what Jesus teaches in the Gospel. And the Gospel is joyful. The prophet, Isaiah, is telling us that God (including the Holy Spirit in the world at this very moment and including Jesus when he comes again) cannot be fooled by appearances; God is not impressed by money and worldly power. The LORD does not make decisions based on what influential people say is so wonderful. No. “The LORD has eyes for the just, and ears for their cry” (Psalm 34:15). God judges and will judge in favor of the poor and afflicted who are used and abused in this world – because that is true justice.
With true justice comes real peace. That is joyful good news, indeed!