It is not enough just to DO good. We are called to BE good, to become the very righteousness of God (cf. 2 Cor 5:21)! 

Speaking to the Corinthians, the people of a city who were aware of their humble origins, their sinful ways of their past, Paul reminds them of how God has mercifully delivered them from the just consequences that they would have deserved. It is another way of reminding them — and us —that if there were any logical justice in the world, it would be that of condemnation. It is the justice that we have earned, going it alone. 

People have been saying to me, more and more lately, that there seems to be an increase of hatred in the world, that more and more Evil seems to be on the increase? Would I — or anyone else — not be blind to deny it? 

To be totally frank, I do see that conflict is on the rise. And persecution is not far behind it. Watch! The noise is louder. People may pick their own image of where Evil is storming the borders and boundaries of any human decency, but there is no doubt that the cry of the poor has become more desperate, even as it goes unheeded. 

The Evil One typically works in more subtle and seductive ways, disguising himself and operating under cover of night (and lies) so as not to be exposed. In “The Screwtape Letters,” by C.S. Lewis, the character representing Satan writes, in his usual boastful fashion, that his greatest achievement is to have convinced the world that he does not exist. It might be said that when Evil becomes more evident to more people, it is not a bad thing, and may even be a sign that Hell is becoming more desperate, because its treachery is being exposed. 

We know from St. Paul, and maybe our own experience, that where sin increases, grace abounds all the more (Rom 5:20). God will never abandon us! While more and more I am seeing the ravages of human sin around us and the pain and suffering it inflicts, I also see a profound rise in a desire of many to draw closer to Jesus, the suffering servant and the Son of Justice, who delivers God’s judgment on the world. And what is the verdict? That the world should be saved! 

This unlikely, unexpected outcome is not what we would be led to expect. It is not of human origins. Only a Father of unrelenting mercy could love a world that so rejected his own Son. Yet so it is. Jesus takes upon himself all of the sin and injustice while we are still in our sins (cf. Rom 5:8, Eph 2:4). 

God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that the world might be saved from itself. So we can take our moral — and often self-righteous — outrage and shove it on the Cross, where it might actually do us some good. Or, to be even more blunt, we can be honest and admit that it is there, on the Cross, that all the rage leads, and if we find ourselves stuck to it, we are at the only place where we can be freed of it.  

The Evil will not go away because we notice it more, try harder to point it out, rail against it, or strive to cover it up with all the good deeds in the world that we might muster the energy to perform. All of this is useless in an attempt to justify ourselves — let alone the rest of humanity — for all the injustice that has been committed against the holiness of God. 

The Good News is that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:16-17). 

St. Paul puts it another way. “God chose the lowly and despised of the world, so that no human being might boast before God. It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, so that as it is written, ‘Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord’” (1 Cor 1:28-31).  

The prime sin of our age is that it accepts criticism and judgment of itself from no source outside itself. We are the judges and arbiters of our own humanity, we get to decide who we are and who we are not. What a conceit! This is what is killing us.  

Do you want to be just, to do justice, the deeds that are good and just? We must become the righteousness of God himself, what God (and not us) is by nature: holy. How do we do this? How do we become holy? The answer is simple: by making Jesus, and not ourselves (or anyone or anything else — which is idolatry) the center of our lives. 

Holiness can be summed up in the simple phrase that characterizes the life-plan of those who have acknowledged their particular addiction in the 12-Step programs: “Let go and let God.” Each of us has our own “addiction” to acknowledge, whether it be to some substance or habit — or, to be honest to God and ourselves, to our age-old addiction to sin.  

If we want to do justice, then we must become holy. Justice is not what we give to the world, but what God graces us with. And only a God who is by nature holy can deliver it as mercy and forgiveness. The “justice” of Man, of this world, cannot save us from ourselves. It only leads to condemnation. 

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