I love the Psalms. They’re rich in emotion and expression, in length and in symbolism. I love how today’s Psalm seems to contrast the first reading, and yet they are intimately related with each other and the Gospel reading.
Once again in the reading from the Old Testament God chastises Israel. He makes them fruitful, but “their heart is false.” They do not worship Him in truth, but as always He reminds them that salvation is at hand if they just reject their false ways and seek the Lord.
The Psalmist has the voice of a repentant Israel. “He, the Lord, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail.” The Psalmist recognizes God’s goodness. He gives the Lord all that is His due.
In the Gospel, Jesus proclaims “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The time for judgment is coming! God has drawn near and we must choose whether we will have Him. How are we to respond?
“Sow for yourselves justice,
reap the fruit of piety;
break up for yourselves a new field,
for it is time to seek the Lord,
till he come and rain down justice upon you.”
I’m especially struck by the line, “reap the fruit of piety.” Piety is something that seems to have a bad rep these days. Piety is associated with outward actions and maybe a “holier-than-thou” attitude. In their pursuit of holiness, pious people are often perceived as imposing their strict practices on others, judging others for not living like they do, and unfortunately not living out of a spirit of Christian charity. Piety is a four letter word.
But this is the very piety that God condemns too! He doesn’t care about our actions unless they are the fruit of a repentant heart. Mind you, He does still care about and expect good works, but that’s because they are the natural consequence of a heart fully alive and in love with Him.
To reap the fruit of piety we must be pious. Not the hypocritical form of piety of the Pharisees, but pious as Jesus is pious. He says, “When you fast… When you pray…” He expects us to do these things but without all the pomp and circumstance of the hypocrites.
So repent and believe in the Gospel. Seek the Lord in daily prayer. Work to die to yourself and live for Him. That is how we enter the Kingdom of God.
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization