He will walk with us in good times and in bad, encouraging us every step of the way, guiding us along the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
God’s very name is righteousness. He is the source and the goal of all that is good. Because God is perfectly good, it is impossible for God to be, or to desire, anything but absolute goodness.
As the scriptures have revealed, under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, we are made in God’s own image and likeness. We are told that when he breathed life into the clay he had molded by the river, it was his life that he breathed into Adam. It is that very same breath, that very same life, that was “breathed” into each and every one of us at the moment of our conceptions in the sanctuary of our mother’s wombs.
When the psalmist writes here in the beautiful 23rd psalm, “He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake,” he is declaring a truth that transcends all human philosophies. Since we are made in God’s own image and likeness, therefore, when we choose to live in righteousness, we are living in accord with our truest nature. We do so by paying attention to our consciences, that is, God’s law written on our very hearts. When we do this, we walk with him, and he walks with us. When we live in concert with God’s will, we will joyously serve others with compassion, love and forgiveness. We will care for one another, imitating Christ in all that we say and do.
Though we are fallen and often fail, we have a Good Shepherd who knows and loves us by name. In his faithful love and forgiveness for us, God continually gives us the graces we need to pick ourselves up again. He will never fail to answer our cries for help. He will walk with us in good times and in bad, encouraging us every step of the way, guiding us along the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. If we willingly and humbly follow His voice we will unfailingly and unswervingly find our way home.
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, echoes this truth when he regains his voice and sings his prophetic canticle at John’s circumcision and naming ceremony in the Temple on the eighth day after John’s birth. He prophesies how John will be the “prophet of the Most High who will go before the Lord to prepare his way to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” He also prophesies the promise of Jesus’ incarnation, six months before Jesus’ birth, saying in beautifully poetic fashion, “In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness, and in the shadow of death, and guide our feet onto the way of peace.” (Luke 1: 78-79)
Lord, we praise you for your faithful love and compassion for us. Help us to humbly turn our ears, our hearts, and our wills to your guiding voice speaking softly to us in our consciences in all circumstances, great and small,as we journey through this life toward our hoped for reunion with you. For, it is our deepest yearning to walk in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. In Jesus’ name we earnestly pray. Amen!
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