In order to understand why Father Gutierrez conceives of love as the rational basis for justice, it is important to first define his ideas of these two moral goods. Gutierrez conceives of love as an unconditional respect and compassion for the human subject, which is a virtue that extends logically from two biblical premises: that God loves all of his subjects and that humans are made in the image of God, meaning they are intended to discover and replicate his virtuous patterns, which they can find enfolded in nature. Moreover, he holds that love is not only afforded equally to the most desperate and destitute of subjects, it is also a meritless good that arrives before we assume ontological forms and through which we may seek out and reach positions on social or moral hierarchies.
Gutierrez conceives of justice, in its ideal form, as the pattern of interaction that logically proceeds from the axiom of God's undiscriminating love. He believes that states of human desperation such as poverty are not inherent or necessary and are generally not even earned; rather, they are structural, inherited, and oppressive. He frequently contrasts his ideal moral good of justice with the reality of modern justice. He holds that the many hierarchies which organize human subjects, and which serve to rationalize the idea that one's position in a hierarchy is based on merit, reinforce a distorted conception of love that is merit-based as well. Ideal justice transcends these flawed hierarchies by returning to the value of universal love.