Justice is a universal human value. In any society, whenever harm is done, reparation is demanded. Whenever something that rightfully belongs to another is taken, restitution is required. And when someone is wrong, efforts are made to make it right. And often, when the offense is great, people demand that justice be equally severe. “Tooth for a tooth” was originally a call for temperance in justice that when only a tooth was taken, only a tooth and not the whole mouth be demanded in recompense.
Mercy and forgiveness are a deeper human value. It takes physical strength to impose justice; but it takes great inner strength and strength of the spirit to be able to forgive and show mercy. Great is the man who lives by justice; but greater is the man who is merciful and forgiving.
In the bigger scheme of things, nothing is so evil that cannot be turned into good. Nor is anything so dark that it cannot be brought to light. If the human experience were all about justice, the human story would have ended at the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve were driven out for their sin. Rather out of their offense came the greatest love story ever told: God becoming man to show us how to love and to forgive and in so doing live!
Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”‘