In the latest Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises," a villain appears who is bent on the anarchical overthrow of Gotham and the chaos that will ultimately consume the world's financial and cultural center. "Bane" (who sounds oddly like a mix between Captain Picard, Sean Connery and Darth Vader), guides his minions in creating havoc in Batman's hometown, while the Dark Knight is forced to return from retirement to once again save his city. Along with new criminals like "Catwoman," the desire of Bane and his associates is to, in essence, turn the world order upside-down - those who have will fall, while those who have-not will now prosper.
As the action of the movie brings about this upheaval, wealthy people are dragged from their comfortable homes and government leaders are pulled before a "court" - quite literally a "court of public opinion" - and "tried" for the perceived injustice of their success and society's suffering.
Watching this, I couldn't help but think back to Jesus' time. There, in a world dominated by Rome's conquering shadow, people longed for freedom - or at least sovereignty. Many in Palestine longed for the promised Messiah - the "anointed one" who would free them from their political bonds and bring about an era of peace and prosperity. Even the Psalms and the prophets looked to a day when the rich and powerful would fall and the oppressed would rule.
Christ himself often put the world on its head in his teaching as he told us "the last shall be first" and the "meek would inherit the land." It was an attractive message - particularly if you were last and meek. Today, we look to see that promise fulfilled again, even as the rich and powerful continue to prosper and often gain at the expense of the poor. "One day..." we might tell ourselves, "they'll get theirs."
But this is not Christian, friends. Looking off to a time when we get to be the powerful and those who oppress get their come-uppance is not an attitude informed by charity. In fact, such a world would merely substitute one oppression for another - one oppressor for another. In such a world, we are right back to where we started, only we are the villains. As Gandhi pointed out, "An eye for an eye leaves the world blind."
True Christian justice is not about making people pay for what they do wrong. Certainly, there are consequences and there need to be. However, true Christian justice is about the conversion of the wicked, not their defeat and destruction. True Christian justice is about proper relationship and repairing what God intended in the beginning. It is, in fact, why the Cross is actually a victory.
There is more I want to say about this and the Batman film, but I will allow a little more time so that I don't spoil a nice ending. If you want to know, then go see the movie. For now, it's enough to remind ourselves that simply shifting the balance of power does nothing to remedy the issues that create an imbalance in the first place. Christian love, justice and forgiveness must be part of the solution - not a product of it.