THE JUSTICE OF GOD IS HIS MERCY

July 25, 2014 at 5:09 pm Leave a comment

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SCRIPTURE READINGS: WIS 12:13, 16-19, ROM 8:26-27, MT 13:24-43 OR MT 13:24-30
http://www.universalis.com/20140720/mass.htm

We know that God is just because He is truth.  This is what the first reading says.  “There is no god, other than you, who cares for everything, to whom you might have to prove that you never judge unjustly. Your justice has its source in strength.  You show your strength when your sovereign power is questioned and you expose the insolence of those who know it.”

As a consequence, we begin to fear His justice and His punishments.  When there is fear, there is no love.  Perfect love casts out fear.  So long as fear exists, we cannot love truly.  We dare not be ourselves and we fear rejection and punishment.  As a consequence because we fear God, He becomes far from us.   When God is no longer our friend and our Father but merely a judge and worse, an executioner, we turn away from Him.  We can no longer feel His Fatherly love.

If that is how we feel, it is because we have a wrong notion of divine justice.  Our understanding of justice is based on human justice which is basically the principle of revenge.  Justice is seen very often in terms of punishment, not so much in terms of restoration.   When someone has done something wrong, the world says he or she must be punished.  The purpose is not so much to help the offender but to punish.  This is not the justice of God.  He does not punish us to exact revenge.  Rather, He wants to restore and reconcile us with Himself.

What is the justice of God? The justice of God is His compassion.  The author of Wisdom says, “Your sovereignty over all makes you lenient to all.”  God is always ready to forgive us. The psalmist says, “You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you. Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading.”  Indeed, God is merciful in judgment for “disposing of such strength, you are mild in judgment, you govern us with great lenience, for you have only to will, and your power is there.”

His justice is tampered with patience.  This is illustrated in the parable of the sower.  ‘And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.”‘   God gives us time to repent.  He respects our need to grow in holiness and in obedience.  He is patient with us. He cautions us against impatience in our growth to holiness.  Uprooting the weeds too early can result in the destruction of the good plants in the process.   In truth the weeds can also help us to grow to learn to be strong. In the face of evil and suffering, we can actually become perfected in truth and holiness.  The sins of others can purify us in love and compassion

Within this context, we must be patient with our erring brothers and sisters in the community.  Jesus is exhorting us to be patient in dealing with the scandal of sins in the Christian community.  God’s judgment is not made hastily.   Rather God sees the entire life of ours rather than just the individual actions we do, good and bad.  So in the face of scandals, we should not be surprised as some of us when we hear of fellow Catholics, especially Church leaders, failing in their conduct and moral life. Sure, we should be saddened by the scandals we hear but we should not be surprised since the Church is a community of pilgrims journeying towards sainthood.

Yet, there is also a warning not to take His mercy for granted.  There is a time for judgement.  God’s mercy is unlimited and infinite but we will have to make a decision finally.   So whilst He speaks of mercy, punishment also awaits those who reject Him.  “The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!”   God of course does not stop loving us but the choice of accepting Him is ultimately ours.  This is because the justice of God must prevail; otherwise He would not be true to Himself because He is Truth.

Consequently, we must take His grace seriously.  Let us not turn the grace of God into cheap grace.  We must cooperate with the grace of God in our lives.  Indeed, we have so many opportunities when the Lord invites us to return to Him.   By not taking His grace seriously, we will only harm ourselves.  This is the downfall of many Christians who have received the grace of Christ at baptism but failed to live out the life of discipleship.

We must realize that what we sow is what we reap.  This is what Jesus said, “The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time.”   What do we sow in life?  Are we sowing good seeds?  Are we cultivating virtues or allowing the vices to cling on to our lives?

Bad habits will one day become big just as good habits will also grow.  In the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.”  Good or evil seeds sown in our hearts will grow in due time and yield a harvest of good or bad fruits.  An act will soon become a habit and then it becomes part of our character that determines our destiny.  So we must be watchful of the kind of seeds we sow in our lives.  If we allow the Word of God to take root in our hearts, we will be filled with the love of Christ and we shall enjoy the fruits of the Spirit.  Otherwise, we will only destroy ourselves.  We must nurture our faith.

So it is important that having been forgiven and reconciled to God, we must now continue with a life of discipleship.  It is important that we be true to His love.  Faith without good works is dead.  We must now show our faith in His love and mercy by the fruits of love and service.  We must in turn continue to offer hope to others, especially forgiveness. The first reading exhorts us to imitate the mercy of God.  “By acting thus you have taught a lesson to your people how the virtuous man must be kindly to his fellow men, and you have given your sons the good hope that after sin you will grant repentance.”  We must learn to be tolerant of others.  The scripture warns us against intolerance.  We must remain patient with those who do not disagree with us.   The way to win our enemies over is not to destroy them but through love and compassion.  Time is needed for people to change and be converted.  Some people cannot wait.  We will only hurt them more.

We must change but not by our strength but by His grace.  Indeed, St Paul tells us that “the Spirit comes to help us in our weakness.”  Only with His grace and strength, can we live a good life and a life of holiness.  This is what the parable of the dough is teaching us.  “The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.”  Grace is like the dough.  It is a powerful agent of change.  When grace is given, it will bring transformation in our lives.   When we surrender ourselves to the grace of God, He will work wonders in our lives.

Consequently, we must turn to the Lord for strength in prayer daily.  “For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God.”  Indeed, we are like the mustard seed.  Everything is God’s grace.  The mustard seed, small as it were, will grow to be a big tree that gives shelter to the birds.  So too, God’s kingdom and His grace works quietly and gradually in and through.   It starts from small beginnings but the end is unimaginable.  Indeed, let our praise be “All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and glorify your name. For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds; you alone are God. Lord, you are good and forgiving.”

WRITTEN BY THE MOST REV WILLIAM GOH
ARCHBISHOP OF SINGAPORE
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Retreived from http://www.csctr.net/reflections/#sthash.IEOWpw6j.eavyL4PE.dpbs

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Entry filed under: Catechesis.

A VISIT FROM THE GODDESS OF NIGHT Making lemonade

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