3rd Week of Advent
Scripture Reading: Psalm 72:1-4, 7-8, 17
Many times, when we go to Mass, we tend to focus only on the Readings and the Gospel, paying very little attention to the words of the Responsorial Psalm, as if the Responsorial Psalm was nothing more than a liturgical “filler.” But the Responsorial Psalm is also the Word of God and should be given the same attention as that of the Readings and the Gospel!
In today’s Responsorial Psalm, the Church takes us to Psalm 72, a psalm which was penned by Solomon, King David’s son and successor. This particular psalm is a prophecy of the reign of the Messiah, who would one day come to mankind through the people of Israel. Speaking to us through Solomon, the Spirit proclaims that when the Messiah comes, His reign will be one of righteousness, prosperity, and peace. But there is something else that Solomon prophesies concerning the Messiah, and it is this which should give us cause to seriously reflect upon our own lives during this penitential season of Advent.
When the Messiah comes, He will judge the peoples of the world in His righteousness and with His justice. Many people in the world, and far too many in the Church, have lost sight of this reality. When death comes for us, and our soul enters eternity in order to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, we will have to give an account for the lives that we lived on the Earth.
In that day, we will not be judged according to the world’s standards of righteousness and justice, but God’s. We will not be judged according to that which was socially acceptable or even legal in our modern-day society. Rather, we will be judged according to the eternal truths which God has proclaimed in His holy Word.
God’s standards of righteousness and the world’s standards of righteousness don’t even come close. Just because something may be socially acceptable and even legal in the world does not mean that it is so in Heaven. God never adjusts His standards to conform to the ever-fluctuating, ever-lowering standards of man. It is man who must conform his standards to God’s.
In our day, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, sexual relations before marriage, and couples living together and having children outside of marriage is not only legal, but it is socially acceptable. If a person has incorporated any of the above into his lifestyle, and he dies, what excuse will he offer up to God? Will he actually try to convince God that he should be admitted into Heaven because according to the societies of men, he broke no laws?
Heaven is a place for those who lived according to God’s laws, and who clung to what He has decreed in His holy Word, not for those who allowed themselves to be deceived by rejecting God’s standards in order to live according to man’s.
The tragic reality in our day, and one which must be confronted, is that there are many in the Church who are living in ways that are displeasing to God and in direct violation of His holy laws, yet feel no need to repent or alter their course. Because these ways are socially acceptable and even “legal” in our society, such men and women do not even feel the slightest prick of conviction and are even able to go to church and call themselves followers of Christ. They have been lulled to sleep, believing that if their lifestyle choices are okay with society, then they’re okay with God. But when their soul is separated from their body at death, and they find themselves standing before Christ to be judged, they will be judged according to His standards of righteousness and justice, not the world’s.
People who say, “I don’t want to hear about what the Bible has to say; it’s an archaic tome as far as I’m concerned,” will be in for a tragic shock when they find themselves standing before Christ in eternity. Their lives will be compared to that which is written in that “archaic tome,” not according to their own standards and ideas of morality.
This is why it is crucial to our salvation that we take the time to study God’s Word and the Catechism of the Catholic Church each and every single day. We need to care about what God has decreed. We need to know how we are supposed to live. We need to continually educate ourselves and refuse to be lulled to sleep or deceived by adopting the world’s standards of righteousness and morality, which are not standards at all. Too many Catholics are not devoting themselves to continuing education as far as the Faith is concerned.
Daily study of God’s Word acts as a check, a guard, against falling asleep. It keeps us vigilant and alert so that we don’t get sloppy or careless in our devotion to God. It keeps us from unknowingly adjusting our standards of righteousness to those of the world. When our standards start to drop, and we get into the Word of God, bells, whistles, and sirens go off in order to show us the lofty height from which we have fallen.
Today’s journaling challenge, in the light of what we have just read is this: Open up the Scriptures or the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pick a verse of Scripture or a teaching of the Catechism.
Compare your life to what you see written down before you. Is your life lined up with what God has decreed through His holy Word and through His Church or are you being forced to acknowledge that you are living by a completely different set of standards that look nothing like that which is written and open before you?
Write down the reflections and thoughts which the Spirit within you prompts you to write.