Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest

Lectionary: 350

Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles,
so that if they speak of you as evildoers,
they may observe your good works
and glorify God on the day of visitation.

The Christian never forgets the Day of Judgment. That can be a heavy burden to the irresolute. 

Perhaps it helps to remember that judgment is ubiquitous. It's in the dressing mirror and the bathroom scale. It's in the numbers that we've learned to track our lives, including age, weight, heart rate, breath rate, blood sugar, cholesterol, lipids, electrolytes, fats and dozens of other measurable bodily fluids. 

Judgment is in the stare of strangers, acquaintances, colleagues and friends. Even our families occasionally grant us a searching glance. It's the fit of clothes and the style of hair. It's what we do and what we invite with facebook, youtube and twitter. If you don't want your great grandchildren -- who might not be born for another forty years -- to know about your cheap clothes and slovenly habits, don't go near the Internet. 

Some unfortunate souls are so possessed by fears of judgment they suppose they're being watched by every camera in the store and on the street. Every microphone is live. Everyone has a  personal Truman Story.  

Personally I find helpful what the old man said to me fifty years ago: 
When I was young I worried about what people said about me; then I decided I don't care what people say about me. Now I realize people don't say anything about me!
But we do need other  people -- their concern, love and compassion -- to affirm our existence. That's where the Church and its innumerable communities come to life.  We welcome, affirm, embrace, admire and forgive one another. 

In today's first reading Saint Peter reminds his disciples they are being judged by non-believers. These "Gentiles" have heard our Gospel; they see our infidelities and judge us by our own standards. But perhaps too, "they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation."

Judgment is inescapable. It's not just a Catholic thing. But we learn to live in the loving, encouraging gaze of God whose Spirit directs our generous impulses and restrains our selfish ones. 

If you, LORD, keep account of sins, Lord, who can stand? But with you is forgiveness and so you are revered.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.