Righteousness

         Unless your righteousness exceeds
         that of the scribes and Pharisees,
        you will never experience the kingdom of heaven.

                  —Matthew 5.20

         Is not this the fast that I choose:
         to loose the bonds of injustice,
        to undo the thongs of the yoke?

                  —Isaiah 58.6

My child, I desire for you that you be surrounded
         by a world of love and joy and beauty.
I have hidden this treasure in the hearts and lives
         of people around you, especially those
who are despised and oppressed, forgotten and abused,
         the ones whose lives do not matter to the world.
To know this loveliness and nobility, to live in its world,
         you have to set those people free.
You have to undo the chains of injustice,
         and to undo their chains you have to stand with them,
        be near them, be among them, befriend them.

My law is to love. This is righteousness:
         right relationships, just and loving and freeing.
The laws I have given you are the signs but they are not the road.
         The rules are the practices but not the love.
To fulfill righteousness is to break the separations
         between you and them, rich and poor, black and white.
How can you undo the thong of the yoke
         if you do not stand with the slave?

When your righteousness exceeds being good enough
         and becomes love then you will know this realm I have prepared for you,
         the joy and beauty I promise you, I who love you, who stand with you,
         who set you free.