HOMILY for Wed in Week 4 of Lent
The word ‘judgment’ comes from the Greek word, krisis, which means a choice, a decision. And that decision has an impact on our lives now, affecting our moral choices.
In St John’s Gospel, it is mankind who has to make a decide whether or not to trust Christ; we make a judgment about who Christ is, and we choose accordingly whether or not to live according to his teaching. So, the choice that we make is borne out by how we live; belief is always followed by moral action. Unlike the other Gospels which see judgment as an event that happens after death, St John’s distinct idea is that it is our present conduct based on our decision concerning Christ that judges us now. If we choose Christ and trust in him, then our actions reveal that we have eternal life now; heaven has already begun for us because Christ is our light, our way, and our life. If we choose otherwise, then our actions reveal that we are already dead.
Such a view takes seriously our human freedom to choose life or death, and, because we are free, it also takes seriously our responsibility for our choices, and their consequences. It may be that sometimes we do not know what we are doing. God’s merciful response in such circumstances is given by Christ on the Cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. But that is not always the case. We do, often, know what we are doing, and we can make consciously sinful choices. That is the terror and mystery of human freedom: that we can knowingly choose to go against Christ’s word, favour our own desires, and act badly. And the mystery of God’s love is that he gives us this freedom to choose, even poorly.
In every circumstance we are judged by Truth; the truth of who we are, and what we invest our energies in. And Truth, of course, is the person of Jesus Christ, who has thus been “given authority to execute judgment”. But the same Christ who judges us in Truth is also our Redeemer, so that we will be saved by Truth if we’re open to it. For many think that God should be merciful and loving, by which they mean, close his eyes to the truth of who I am, and be blindly indulgent towards me, even to the extent of overlooking and allowing me to persist in my bad choices. But that’s false mercy and untruth; such a God ignores me.
No, to be judged by Truth means that God will not forget me, but, like a compassionate mother will keep prompting me – nagging me, even – by his grace until I open my eyes so that I recognize who I truly am, and how my judgments and decisions affect and make me. And when I honestly face up to the bad choices I’ve made, and the sinful direction I’m heading, then, out of this Truth, mercy and love will emerge.
For as soon as I realize I’m a sinner and I seek his forgiveness, God’s mercy raises me up, and he fortifies me with his grace so that I am re-fashioned by Love; transformed by grace so as to be re-made in the beautiful image of Christ.
- lawrenceop posted this