One of the best books of philosophy that I have ever read is The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. Its treatment of God’s justice makes it especially relevant for our society today where so many people suffer egregious injustices.
The Consolation of Philosophy was written in the 6th century A.D. Boethius was a government official for the Roman Emperor Theodoric. Boethius wrote it while he was in prison, falsely accused of a conspiracy against the Emperor. Boethius turned to his faith during his sufferings in prison, while awaiting execution. The book consists of a series of dialogues between him and an entity known as Lady Philosophy. Lady Philosophy comforts Boethius and helps him to see reality as it truly is, discussing suffering and the nature of evil in the plan of God’s providence.
The book’s section on justice is very profound and deeply encouraging. Lady Philosophy explains that it is better to suffer an injustice, than to actually commit one. In other words, it is better to be morally above board than to have an injustice on your soul. Lady Philosophy explains that, “The good are always rewarded and the wicked always punished.” What this means is that moral people reflect light, and they are happy and at peace, unlike the wicked. Lady Philosophy goes on to make the profound statement that, “The wicked who unjustly escape punishment are more unhappy than those who escape justice.” She explains how this is so because, “the wicked receive some good when they are punished, because the punishment itself is good inasmuch as it is just.” Thus, it follows that when the wicked escape punishment they only become more unjust, because wickedness is by its very nature unjust.
In conclusion, The Consolation of Philosophy and its emphasis on justice is deeply important for today, because our culture is not oriented to justice. In Lady Philosophy’s parting farewell to Boethius, she comforts him with, “Our hopes and prayers are not directed to God in vain, for if they are just, they cannot fail.”