March 13, 2024 at 10:04 a.m.

From God’s justice comes glory

A look at the life of St. Patrick can help us understand how God’s judgment can lead to God’s justice and glory.
WORD OF FAITH: A breakdown of each week's upcoming Sunday readings to better understand the Word of God at Mass.
WORD OF FAITH: A breakdown of each week's upcoming Sunday readings to better understand the Word of God at Mass.

By Father Anthony Ligato | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Since we are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, it might do us well to examine the life of St. Patrick to help us understand how God’s judgment can lead to God’s justice and glory.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

— Jeremiah 31:34

Patrick came from a very holy and religious family in Roman England. His father was a deacon in the church, and his mother was related to St. Martin of Tours. Patrick was no different from young people today. He was independent and even rebellious to his parents’ beliefs and values. At the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by invaders and enslaved in Ireland. He was put to work as a sheepherder. It was during this time that he began to reflect on how his rebellious behavior toward God and his parents caused him to be in this distressful situation. He believed this was God’s judgment on him and he began to pray and reflect. This led to his confession that there is only one true God and he recognized that from God’s judgment came justice and an experience of God’s glory. Patrick would escape his enslavement and return home. This would lead to Patrick giving his life to God by becoming a priest and bishop. St. Patrick accepted God’s judgment because he knew God was just and from God’s justice comes glory.

Jeremiah and the people of Judah had the experience of God’s judgment through their being conquered by the Babylonians. The people of Judah were enslaved in Babylon and others like Jeremiah were left on the land to eke out an existence in a destroyed and desolate nation. Others left the land and became refugees fleeing to Egypt. Jeremiah warned the people of Judah that God’s judgment would be visited upon them. But Jeremiah also spoke that from judgment comes justice and justice leads to glory. “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” (Jer. 31:31) 

The Babylon exiles as well as those left on the land would have been familiar with Psalm 51 as they cried out for God’s mercy. Psalm 51 is a penitential psalm which is structured as a prayer of contrition. “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and my sin cleanse me.” (Psalm 51:3-4) The prayer of contrition in Psalm 51 is reflective of King David’s own repentance after he had sinned in the sight of God. King David called upon God to pardon him of his iniquity and to not cast him away. “A clean heart create for me O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” (Psalm 51:12) True contrition, as the psalm goes on to say, will never be scorned by God. God’s justice brings about God’s mercy and God’s mercy reveals the glory of God. 

God’s judgment on humanity is a judgment of love and mercy. God’s judgment leads to God’s justice. God’s justice leads to God’s glory. Jesus glorifies the Father by his willingness to lay down his life, for God’s judgment was to redeem humanity not to condemn humanity. Can we accept the judgment God gave to his only begotten son? Jesus knows how difficult it is for us to accept the Father’s judgment, “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? Father save me from this hour. But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:27) Jesus accepted the Father’s judgment, for it was just and justice leads to the glory of the cross. The cross is the ultimate sign of God’s glory and Jesus gives glory to the Father by laying his life down on the cross. 

The Second Reading from Hebrews 5:7-9 tells of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross and how the sacrifice of our savior on the cross leads to God being glorified and the promise of our own sharing in that future glory. “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” God gives us back the joy of salvation in the person of his only begotten Son. “God give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me.” (Psalm 14) This is God’s justice! So, let us glory in the justice of God.


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