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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Righteousness and Justice (A Perspective on Covid-19 Part 36)


Today’s readings:

Amos 5:14-24

Psalm 50:7-17

Matthew 8:28-34


“Then call on me on the day of distress;

I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.”

(Psalm 50:15)


We are living in a time of great distress, due to COVID-19, that has totally disrupted normal life. But the greater distress is the pandemic of evil that is in the world today. In fact, COVID-19 comes as God’s chastisement for such evil. “In every square there shall be lamentation, …. when I pass through your midst, says the Lord.” (Am 5:16b,17b). So we desperately call on God. What will it take for God to rescue us? Well, if God’s chastisement is due to evil, then that is what we need to turn away from.

Many are the evils in the world. This is the case even for those who profess to be Christian.


There are those who are just concerned about worldly goods and not about righteousness. Jesus healed the Gadarene demoniacs and cleared the way for the townspeople to once again travel by the road that the demoniacs dominated. But Jesus also sent the demons into the herd of swine, which plunged into the sea and drowned. So what did the townspeople do? “Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.” (Mt 8:34). Here was the healer; here was the one who gave them freedom from violence and freedom to travel; here was the one who brought peace into the community. But they rejected him because he had caused damage to their livelihood.


A major driving force in society today is money. It has led to greed, corruption, injustice to the poor, crime, and so on. And such people turn a blind eye to godly virtues that keep them from pursuing their greed without restraint. Jesus has rightly said that you cannot serve God and mammon. Many today have chosen mammon.


Then there are those Christians who know and profess to live out God’s ways, but who actually do not heed God’s words and do not subject themselves to God’s discipline and way of life. They are not godly but wicked. “But to the wicked God says: ‘Why do you recite my commandments and profess my covenant with your mouth? You hate discipline; you cast my words behind you!’” (Ps 50:16-17).


Today we see many Catholics, including prominent politicians, who are like this. They profess to be devout Catholics but openly and strongly support abortion. They go to Mass and Holy Communion but engage in corrupt practices. They look to their own selfish interests, and not to the good of the people, and certainly not to God.


What should Christians rather do? “Offer praise as your sacrifice to God; fulfill your vows to the Most High.” (Ps 50:14). Christians must live out their covenant with God, and obey His commands. Then they with holy hands should come to the Lord in praise and in offering of self. This is not just about Catholics attending Mass. One cannot truly offer praise to God while living unrighteous lives. If so, God says, “I hate, I despise your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemnities. Take away from me your noisy songs; the melodies of your harps, I will not listen to them.” (Am 5:21,23).


So what truly are we to do? What will it take for God to hear and act on our cries for help in this pandemic?


First, we must “hate evil and love good” (Am 5:15a). We need to turn away from evil ways and live our lives according to the dictates of our good God. Second, we must do justice. We are to “let justice prevail at the gate.” (Am 5:15b). This means doing what is right and just to others. We look to the interests and well-being of others. “Then it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.” (Am 5:15c).


Great sin has cut us off from God. No wonder we are experiencing woes. This is not the life full of hope that God promises His people. But it is not God who falls short, but we. How then can we have fullness of life? “Seek good and not evil, that you may live.” (Am 5:14a). This is how we can once again have God with us, intimately connected with and active in our lives. “Then truly the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you as you claim.” (Am 5:14b).


So what ultimately is the way out for us from the woes and evil in this life? It is the way of holiness and justice. “Rather, let justice surge like waters, and righteousness like an unfailing stream.” (Am 5:24). This is about the two greatest commandments—love of God and love of neighbor. It is about a vertical relationship with God and a horizontal relationship with people, which if rightly lived out makes the cross.


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