Hope in the Lord — Jury duty

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz

While most of Louisville and a good deal of the world are using these two weeks to prepare for those famous two minutes celebrated annually as “the Derby,” I have the privilege of serving on jury duty.  It is a two week commitment — mostly waiting — that has given me a new appreciation for the common good and the benefits of living in a land in which such careful efforts are made to seek justice for the aggrieved.

I must admit that the duty of being available to serve on a jury is something that I knew in the back of my mind. Maybe it came from high school civics class (it was called “Problems in Democracy” when I took the course), or maybe it was my first study of the 800-year old Magna Carta signed in 1215. This document gave England the gift of a process that seeks trial by peers when one is accused of wrong doing or when there is a dispute that just can’t be solved by other means. 

I reported on Monday, April 24, and was surprised to find that I was among about 150 adults who had been randomly selected. In Kentucky, those who register to vote, have a driver’s license or pay state taxes get in the pool from which jurors are selected.

I was impressed by the fair quality of the proceedings. We are cautioned not to talk to anyone about any details of a trial if selected as a juror.  I can safely say that at the time of this writing, I have not been selected.  However, sitting and waiting has given me a chance to focus on civil responsibility.

I went to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” to help me with my private reflection and looked for the various forms of justice. The description starts at paragraph 2410.

I remember from my seminary studies that one form of justice relates to the obligation of the citizen to further the common good. Voting in an informed way is part of those privileged obligations. 

Allowing yourself to be considered for office or for special public committees is also among the obligations for those who have been given the talent for such service. This type of justice is called legal justice.  It is that obligation that I owe, in fairness to the community.  Jury duty is found here.

There are other forms of justice. I recall that paying someone the agreed upon amount for a porch well painted is called commutative justice.

Then there is distributive justice, which identifies the obligation a society has to each individual, such as providing good highways or safe streets. The final one — and the one rightly given much attention today — is social justice. This fairness is based on treating persons with the dignity they deserve as God’s creations and caring for our common home, the Earth.

Being called for jury duty and reading the “Catechism” have given me this chance to reflect on justice in all its forms. I loved going back to the “Catechism” to see this fuller treatment.

If you would like to read it, go to section III, which deals with Life in Christ. The sub heading under which the treatment of justice is found is entitled, “Respect for Persons and their Goods.” 

(The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” can be found online for no cost at https://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/.)

May is the Month of

Our Blessed Mother Mary

When we seek the model for living a just life, of course my mind goes right to Jesus and then to Mary, His mother, and to St. Joseph, the just man. May 1 is the celebration for St. Joseph the Worker. The month of May is filled with traditions that honor our Blessed Mother Mary, including May crownings and special recitations of the holy Rosary. 

This year, May 13 will mark the 100th anniversary of the appearance of our Blessed Mother to the children of Fatima. We will have a special Mass at the Cathedral on Saturday, May 13, beginning with the public recitation of the Holy Rosary at 10:30 a.m. and followed by Mass, at which I will be the principal celebrant and Father Matthew Hardesty will preach.

The experience of jury duty will help me prepare. The waiting and the reflecting on our civic responsibility have helped me to reflect upon what makes up a just and fair society. May our prayer of intercession to our Blessed Mother lead us to her Son, Jesus, who is our source of justice.

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