God's Redemptive Love

10-16-2022From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

It was exciting for baseball fans to see Aaron Judge hit his sixty-second home run and break the record of Roger Maris. When he comes to bat you can hear the cheer - “All rise!!” Whenever we go to court we see this acted out when the announcement is made as the judge comes in: “All rise.” That is a sign of respect for the judge and the office that he or she represents and a source of hope for justice. In today’s Gospel (Luke 18:1-8) Jesus tells the parable about a corrupt judge who finally delivers a verdict in favor of a woman who kept pestering him. He was not so much being just as seeking to get rid of her. Every Sunday in the Creed we recite together we say, “He (Jesus) will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” We do not emphasize that as much today as when I was growing up in the fifties. We recite this truth not to put fear into our hearts but to put our thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions into practice every day because it is by them that we vindicate or condemn ourselves. In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus spells out simply and clearly the criteria that will be used to judge us: “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” This sounds almost too simple.

In the Gospel three weeks ago (Luke 16:19-31) Jesus told the parable of the rich man who feasted grandly every day and ignored the poor man Lazarus at his doorstep. When both died, Lazarus (his name means God will help) went to heaven while the rich man went to hell. The rich man did not harm Lazarus but simply ignored him.

In reality we have already begun to render the judgement that we will hear when we face God at death. When we sin we apologize by seeking God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance and resolve to open our minds and hearts to those God puts into our lives every day. That is how we plead our case every day. God’s mercy is His redemptive love that lifts our minds and hearts to find joy in sharing who we are and what we have with gratitude. In the last verse of Psalm 16 we have these joyful, faith filled words - “You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand happiness forever.” Jesus is far more than a judge looking to serve us God’s justice, He walks with us in the journey of life. Peace comes not by pleading our case before Him, but by loving and speaking as He did every day of our lives. How good it is to be able to say as St. Paul did in Galatians 2:20: “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” Joy is not about feeling good and being happy but doing good and sacrificing and loving willingly, joyfully, and graciously. 

I offer Psalm 46 and the Psalm prayer with it for your prayerful reflection.

Happy the man who considers the poor and the weak. The Lord will save him in the day of evil,
will guard him, give him life,
make him happy in the land
and will not give him up to the will of his foes.
The Lord will help him on his bed of pain,
he will bring him back from sickness to health.

As for me, I said: Lord, have mercy on me,
heal my soul for I have sinned against you."
My foes are speaking evil against me.
how long before he dies and his name be forgotten? They come to visit me and speak empty words,
their hearts full of malice, they spread it abroad.

My enemies whisper together against me.
They all weigh up the evil which is on me.
Some deadly thing has fastened upon him,
he will not rise again from where he lies."
Thus even my friend, in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has turned against me.

But you, O Lord, have mercy on me.
Let me rise once more and I will repay them.
By this I shall know that you are my friend,
if my foes do not shout in triumph over me.
If you uphold me I shall be unharmed
and set in your presence for ever more.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.

Psalm Prayer: Lord Jesus, healer of soul and body, You said: Blessed are the merciful, they will obtain mercy. Teach us to come to the aid of the needy in a spirit of love, that we in turn may be received and strengthened by you.