April 1, 2018
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42
The quote above comes from the preaching of St. Peter to a group of pagans. We may be uncomfortable with the idea of Jesus, who loved sinners and ate with them, who exorcised the possessed and healed the sick with a word, as our judge. In contemporary society, judging is one of the only remaining actions that people won’t tolerate. It’s a common sin I hear in confession. And it is wrong for us to judge. We do not know the content of another person’s heart, or why they behave as they do, or the wounds they bear in their heart. Usually we dispute people’s judgment of us, too.
The judgment of Jesus may work a little differently. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is described as the light that has come into the world (John 1:5). That same light is displayed in the Synoptic Gospels at the Transfiguration, which terrifies Peter, James and John (cf Mark 9:6). Peter says it is good to be with Jesus in his Transfigured state, but it is also terrifying. That’s the way, I believe, with the judgment of Jesus. In his light, we see the reality of who we are clearly, without illusion. It is a terrifying vision – to know how we’ve fallen short of who and what we could be, if we allowed God free reign in our lives. This is why Simon the fisherman (before he was called “Peter” by the Lord) says to Jesus, “Depart from me, I am a sinful man.” The judgment we experience in Jesus’ presence is our judgment of ourselves. There’s no disputing it in the light of Jesus, who is Truth.
But in Jesus, justice and mercy meet. When we draw close to Him, we realize we are sinners. If we remain with Him, though, and ask for forgiveness, He will show us His mercy. That same mercy was shown on the cross when he prayed for our forgiveness. Mercy was won for us through His offering of Himself as sacrifice for sins. His resurrection, which we celebrate today and at every Mass, is proof that His sacrifice is acceptable to the Father for each and every one of us.
Thanks be to God, ALLELUIA!