“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3). There is no escaping either the judgment of God, or his mercy. This is the paradox that is the reality of our relationship with the God of Creation, Salvation, and Love.
We were created in love by God and made in his own image and likeness. That is our glory and yet, because of The Fall of Adam, we have been susceptible to sin, to pride, greed, jealousy, anger/rage, lust, gluttony, and sloth; all of these in their many variations and forms. God, though, never abandoned us, never lost his love for us. When Adam and Eve fell from God’s grace, his love for them (and us) could not, would not be conquered by their (our) rebelliousness. From the moment of The Fall, God has shown us, through all of the prophets, through the liberation of the Jews from their slavery in Egypt, through all of the failings of his Chosen People, that his love was both just and faithful. Though he punished, it was never out of unrighteousness, never out of revenge, but always for the good of his people, his children. And he continues to do so for us today. His judgment is always true, always righteous. And his mercy is magnanimous, instant, pure, complete and perfect. When Jesus died on the Cross, he conquered sin and death—forever. And though we continue to fall, to fail in our love by our free choices, He continues to forgive our sins and to forget them, never holding them against us. He renews us in his forgiveness, every time.
The only way we who are creatures, created in his love, can thank our Creator for his unconditional love and mercy is to consciously, willingly, and humbly “seek the Lord,” by learning to be obedient to his law of love, by turning to him for the graces we need to help us along the way in our awkward struggle toward righteousness. But we need not look at this struggle fearfully. It is in humility that we recognize our guilt and our need for God’s grace and love. It is in humility that we can be joyful in our struggle. We can come to know our struggles as the crosses we are to pick up and bear, for him. When we pick up our crosses and willingly, joyfully, follow him and his Way, we are seeking him in the way that leads us to the righteousness he calls us to in this life. It is in humility that we come to know that without him we can do nothing, and that with him we can do all that is good, and righteous.
How do we practice this humility and righteousness? We do so by reading the scriptures and meditating on them personally, by developing a relationship with God in our prayer lives, by loving God with our whole hearts, minds, bodies, and souls, and our neighbors as ourselves. We do so by putting the Word of God into practice in our daily lives, by practicing forgiveness. It is only when we come to know ourselves humbly before God that we can learn to forgive those who have sinned against us out of true love and true compassion and true understanding. It is in learning to act humbly in accord with the righteousness of God, that is, justly and mercifully, with compassion and understanding, that we will be able to “find shelter in the Lord,” both now and on the Last Day.
Lord, Teach our hearts the wisdom of humility. Give us an ever-deepening desire to humbly bend our wills to your righteousness, so that we may become righteous in all that we think, say, and do. We pray these prayers in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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