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Justice is about the community, the social whole in which life is relational — Father Eugene Hemrick

The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington Oct. 2, 2022. (CNS photo/Elizabeth Frantz, Reuters)

Tributes to justice abound on Capitol Hill in Washington. On the east side of the Supreme Court, Moses, Solon the great lawmaker and Confucius look down on us from a white marble frieze.

Above the entrance of the U.S. Capitol, liberty stands flanked by hope and the scales of justice, and on the ceiling of the House of Representatives are sculptures of famous lawmakers.

What are the principals of justice? Its foundation is based on a first principle, an indisputable fact that life by its nature consists of living with one another, and the just man is required to deal with the other.

Justice is about the community, the social whole in which life is relational and is just or unjust depending on the nature of our relationship with each other.

Eugene Hemrick
Father Eugene Hemrick writes for Catholic News Service (CNS file photo/Bob Roller)

Take, for example, the Ten Commandments, in which we are to relate to one God, to obey our parents, not lie to another, kill or possess his or her goods.

Solon the great lawmaker of Athens ruled wisely because he envisioned a peaceful community of citizens concerned for each other.

He pointed to avarice that destroys a society when leaders consider their own prominence and fail to serve the polis, the citizenship.

Among Greek virtues, duty ranked first because it advocates responsibility — being responsible for others. When justice happens, so does duty-driven responsibility exist.

The essence of peace is order. When life is in order, tranquility results. Statues around Capitol Hill depicting justice are of warriors holding a sword, representing the fight for law and order needed to achieve peace.

As a youth I once became disturbed about the number of injustices reported in the news. My grandfather took me aside one day and said, “Gini, it is all in the Bible. The prophets were forever deploring Israel’s leaders for being concerned about their own prominence at the expense of Israel’s welfare.

“Christ continuously berates the self-serving Pharisees for the injustice of deserting the sheep of Israel.”

The movie “All the President’s Men” popularized the phrase, “Follow the money,” How true, money often turns heads away from duty.