Most people probably don’t remember the show “Night Court”, a sitcom in the setting of a courtroom in New York City.  Something resonated with me about the show, especially the character Judge Harold T Stone.  Harry wasn’t your typical judge.  A 34 year old who was appointed to the bench because “he was home”, Harry uses unorthodox methods to the cases before him.  Right with the pilot episode, he shows that his interest isn’t just in justice, but the humanity behind the justice (check out parts of the pilot episode at http://youtu.be/MeWUvnLnIn8).

Growing up, I actually wanted to be a judge, like Harry.  (Then I realized you had to be a lawyer in order to be a judge, so that was quashed.)  It wasn’t until I started watching the episodes on DVD again that it donned on me why Harry was someone I really resonated with.  Although the show wasn’t meant to do this (at least not that I’m aware of), Judge Harold T Stone is very much like a Christ-figure.  Stereotypically, judges are seen as harsh, impersonal characters who’s only interest seems to be carrying out justice.  Judge Stone however is as much interested in the dignity of the people before him as well as the justice he needs to deliver.  In the pilot episode, he uses his unorthodox ways to get at the heart of the issue between this married couple (whom the wife is charged with attempted murder).  Instead of just looking at the facts and seeing how the law is applied, he seeks the motive behind the act and really discovers that a lack of communication is really the source.  As his court clerk says to him (paraphrase): “You saved that marriage, and all the memories that go with it.” He went beyond his “job” to help save that which was worth saving.

In many ways, that’s how Jesus is.  God is the final judge.  Yet he is not the impersonal judge just interested in justice, but he craves the heart and soul of every person before him, to see what’s really behind it and to attend to any hurts that go with it.  Like Jesus, many times, justice isn’t necessarily about choosing who’s story is “right”, but rather seeking that hidden 3rd option (door #3 if you will) that both satisfies justice and gives dignity to those before him.  May God grant me his wisdom in seeing all those options and to recognize balance between justice and compassion.

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