Speak Lord: Lover of the Just

Abbot Isarnus tombstone, St Victor, Marseille

The Responsorial Psalm for Mass tomorrow, the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, speaks of the close relationship between the just and the Lord, the communion between God and the righteous.

The just will live in the presence of the Lord.

Lord, who shall dwell on your holy mountain?
He who walks without fault;
he who acts with justice
and speaks the truth from his heart;
he who does not slander with his tongue.

The just will live in the presence of the Lord.

He who does no wrong to his brother,
who casts no slur on his neighbour,
who holds the godless in disdain,
but honours those who fear the Lord.

The just will live in the presence of the Lord.

He who keeps his pledge, come what may;
who takes no interest on a loan
and accepts no bribes against the innocent.
Such a man will stand firm for ever.

The just will live in the presence of the Lord.

Psalm 14:2-5

 In the Psalm, healthy communion between God and the faithful in the psalm seems to rely on the righteousness of the faithful, the ‘just’. 

The Christian tradition also recognises the value of trying to live well. But at the same time our tradition knows that sometimes a seeming righteous life masks a life of intolerance and little real virtue; and knows of many ‘sinners’ who, find that the Lord has come to keep company with them, and who gifts them freedom from sin and achieves their healing and reconciliation. They have not earned this, but the Lord gives it, freely.

 Mainstream Christianity urges us to try to live righteously, but also knows we cannot earn our demand salvation by right. Always it is gift. Always it is lived communion.

  • Where do you enjoy communion with the Lord?
  • What healing and mercy do you find – and need – from the Lord?

Tombstone of Abbot Isarnus, Abbey of St Victor, Marseille. (c) 2014, Allen Morris. The inscription reads: ‘These are the sacred remains of our illustrious father Isarnus, those limbs made glorious by high merit. His soul, happily, has attained Heaven. Outstandingly good and serene of spirit, he possessed all kinds of virtue. A man of God, he was joyous for all and in every thing. He practised what he preached, this good and blessed abbot. He made of his followers good men, for such was his rule of life. Forced to cross the threshold of existence, he departed courageously. Loyal and true two score years and seven, he governed the gentle flock in his care, leaving it a week before the calends of October to enter the kingdom of light.’

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