Love, Judgment, Virtue

9 Pentecost
First reading and psalm: Amos 8:1-12Ps. 52

“I trust in the steadfast love of the Lord forever and ever” (Ps. 52:8). Love itself is the source of all being. Love is the subject and object and verb of an endless whirling affection before all ages and to the ages of ages. Love creates and calls and summons. Love redeems and forgives. Love is everything, including the absolute truth. So, in the face of injustice, love is judgment. A most loving God will not sit in silence while the weak and the poor are cheated and abused.

The observance of the new moon and the sabbath are of no value when all attention is directed to the moment when wheat can be sold again and the poor cheated with false balances. Gain by any means necessary is an evil God does and will oppose. “Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land” (Amos 8:4). Love speaks this not only to convict those who trample and bring destruction, but also to save. For the fate of an oppressor is, in the end, a lost humanity: “They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to south, they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it” (Amos 8:12). The rich will wander like the poor. A bitter day will come: lamentation, sackcloth, the shaved head of one mourning the death of a son. This is the Bible. This is the Book of Love warning! This is a land trembling!

What is Love to do? Does Love turn a blind eye when people plot destruction, speak lies with a razor-sharp tongue, seek evil more than good (Ps. 52)?

Love tells us that we are estranged and hostile in our minds. Love tells us that we are doing evil deeds (Col. 1:21). Love tells the truth. And yet Love gives his body in sacrifice to make us holy and blameless and irreproachable. Jesus Christ our Lord, the image of the invisible God, has poured out his purifying blood to forgive and change and make new. Being made new in Christ is to possess “the riches of the glory of this mystery” (Col. 1:27). And what is the mystery? “Christ in you.”

“Christ in you” is the firstborn of all creation, the firstborn from the dead, the vessel of all fullness. This implies a great change. In the body of his flesh and with the blood of his cross, Jesus Christ has destroyed evil and death. Rising and pouring out his Spirit, he gives and awakes a new humanity. Consider this mystery, Christ in you. “There is no mystery more saving than this, in which sins are purged, and virtues increased, and the mind enriched with an abundance of all spiritual gifts” (Aquinas, Opusculum 57, my translation).

How do we love God and do justice? As Jesus enters a certain village, he is welcomed into the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Lazarus is gone. Mary sits at the Lord’s feet and listens. Martha moves about the house, worried and distracted, irritated that she is left alone to do the work. Jesus says, “Mary has chosen the better part” (Luke 10:42). Mary sits before the God of all creation, to whom she gives her heart and mind and soul. Mary is attending to and honoring a human being, the human being, every human being, the Son of God who has taken upon himself our humanity. They are no longer two, but one in the unity of one person.

Look It Up: Read Luke 10:42. Be attentive.
Think About It: Forgiveness and virtue, love and justice.


Online Archives