In this faith, then, we find life. We find a fuller life here on earth, and we can hope with confidence that we will have life eternal when Jesus returns to judge the world with righteousness on the Last Day.
To put today’s passage more simply: Justice leads toward life, and the pursuit of evil leads toward death. Yes, it is as simple as that.
Righteousness, or justice, refers to that behavior which is consistent with the law of God. It is that behavior that recognizes the God-given, infinite dignity of others and honors it by being just, merciful, forgiving, and generous in our service toward others, at all times, and in all ways. To act righteously is to honor the Creator for the beauty and the wonder of his creation. To live in this way, then, is to live toward life, both here in this life, and toward that life eternal that awaits the righteous in God’s heavenly kingdom. When we willingly and humbly choose to walk in this way, this is God’s delight.
To pursue evil, is to make the self more important than others. It is a denial of God. Evil defines all things, and all others, according to how they serve the selfish ego. To pursue evil is to claim the power and importance of God to the self. Evil denies the infinite value of the other by comparing the self as over and above all others. Because of this self-centeredness, there can be no love in one’s thoughts, words, or deeds. And, as a result, all manner of crime, violence and injustice, is rationalized by the ego. There is no love in this behavior, only a distorted, grasping, demanding form of lust. Where there is no love, there can be no life, because God is absent. For, as we know from 1 John 4:8, “God is love.” This is why only death can result from evil. That death comes in all of its forms: physical, emotional and spiritual in this life, but worst of all, it results in the eternal death that is damnation, which is the utter absence of God, forever. To pursue evil is to deny that the whole of human life is under scrutiny by God. This is an unspeakable folly.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we desire to know, to love, and to serve God with our very lives. From the very the depths of our being we hope to grow stronger and more effective in our ability to live in accord with the love of God each and every day. This desire and this hope are fruits of our faith in God. Because of our faith, we see the wisdom of living in accord with righteousness more clearly. We know it, even though we are not perfect in it. Because we have faith, even though we are not perfect, we know that when we fall short of righteousness our consciences will burn within us and cause us to desire to return to God. Because we know that God is love, we can have the courage to repent and turn back to him for his forgiveness. We know that he will give us the graces we need to, “Go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11) In this faith, then, we find life. We find a fuller life here on earth, and we can hope with confidence that we will have life eternal when Jesus returns to judge the world with righteousness on the Last Day.
Lord, we pray that you fill our hearts and our minds with a growing desire for righteousness. Give us the graces we need to be your good and faithful servants in this life. Strengthen us to see and to avoid all that is evil. Help us also to see the infinite dignity you have made us in, and to honor that dignity in our daily behavior toward you, our neighbors and ourselves. We pray these things in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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