In this Information Age, we have become experts at analysis. Daily, we conduct studies and gather statistics, we label organizations as liberal or conservative, we tag entire generations as senior citizens, baby boomers, and even generation X. We make an effort to maintain correctness, being careful to address people as they desire to be addressed. With the help of media, we create new buzzwords with which we judge people, their accomplishments, and their faults.
But today’s readings remind us, once again, that God does not judge us by our human standards. God does not reward the popular nor condemn the outcast. Indeed, the book of Sirach notes that God ” hears the cry of the oppressed,” ” the wail of the orphan, ” and all who serve God willingly. Saint Paul is confident that he will be awarded a ” merited crown “ and that God will likewise bless all who have looked for the appearance of God with eager longing. Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee prays while he extols his own virtues, while the tax collector prays simply for God’s mercy.
How does the world judge us ? Is it by what we have accomplished or by the size of our house or our paycheck? And how will God judge us? We can only guess, but God’s revealed word gives us some clues.
All this past year we have heard Luke’s Gospel and been shown a God of compassion. Jesus is attentive to the poor and the lowly, and he encourages his disciples to do the same. Saint Paul “fought the good fight” and ” kept the faith”. He preserved the teachings of the faith and personified them in his own life. This, then, is how, we can prepare for our appearance before God.
First, we can see everyone through the compassionate ways of Christ. Second, we can seek God’s help with true humility – always converting our lifestyle to mirror the Gospel message and asking for mercy when it does not. Third, we can pray incessantly . And, most of all, realize that the Spirit is our constant guide and our unfailing support. And then we, too, can await our merited crown.
God bless you all
Your brother in Christ