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(Part 31)


December 3, 2009

In today’s reading we first of all are brought back to our theme for this year, trust in Jesus. Our theme verse for 2009 says: “for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (Is 12:2, RSV). Today’s psalm says: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (Ps 118:14, RSV).

We trust in Jesus because he is our Savior, and he puts strength in our minds and limbs, and he puts a song in our hearts. We trust in Jesus because he is the Prince of Peace, who brings the world the peace that they desperately seek. “You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Is 26:3, RSV). We trust in Jesus because we can build the foundation of our lives on him and know that he will being us to eternal happiness. “Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock.” (Is 26:4, NAB). We trust in Jesus because he is just and righteous.

Isaiah speaks about the justice and righteousness of God. In fact, in today’s reading justice and righteousness merge and become one, becoming interchangeable in meaning. We see this from two different Bible translations.

“Open the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith.” (Is 26:2, NAB). “Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps faith may enter in.” (Is 26:2, RSV.).

We trust that God is just and righteous. This is our faith. In turn, God desires that we too become, like Him, just and righteous. This assures the redemption of the remnant of God’s people. This assures our ultimate entry into heaven.

How do we keep the faith that allows us to enter?

First, because man has become proud in his own achievements and power, he has failed to be in awe of God and has gone his own way, living his life according to how he desires to. Thus we need to be humbled. The sooner we place ourselves in a right posture of humility before an awesome God, the better it will be for us. Because God does want to bring us back to Himself, He “humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down” (Is 26:5a).

With humility and reverential fear, we will enter into a right relationship with God. We will bow down in worship. In turn, we will experience the fullness of His love. “Let those who fear the Lord say, God’s love endures forever.” (Ps 118:4).

Second, because it is often the rich and powerful that oppress the poor and powerless, if we are to put ourselves in the proper relationship to God, we must do justice to the poor. God loves the poor and oppressed and defends them. Ultimately there will be a reversal of fortunes. God cuts down the proud and lifts up the lowly. The lofty city will be “trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor.” (Is 26:6).

Third, because we remain hard of heart, because we fall into infidelities, we oftentimes need to be chastised. This comes through oppression, persecution, affliction, pains, crosses. Such are intended by God to humble us, to discipline us, to purify us, to bring us back to Himself. “The Lord chastised me harshly, but did not hand me over to death.” (Ps 118:18). In fact, the Lord’s intent is to bring us to life.

Finally, we live our lives according to God’s ways. We carry the name of Christ, and so we need to live as true Christians. This is a life lived in obedience to God. This is a life lived in holiness and righteousness and justice. This is a life that proclaims to all how good the Lord is. “I shall .... declare the deeds of the Lord.” (Ps 118:17). This is a life of endurance and perseverance, especially in the face of suffering. In all these will be we truly blessed. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Ps 118:26).

When we live our faith in justice and righteousness, we will be able to face the daunting challenges of life. We will experience the hand of God on our lives.
We can always call upon Him, especially in challenging times, and know that He will answer our prayers. “In danger I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” (Ps 118:5).
We have His protection and we need never be afraid. “The Lord is with me; I am not afraid; what can mortals do against me?” (Ps 118:6).
We can count on His help, and look to a victorious life. “The Lord is with me as my helper; I shall look in triumph on my foes.” (Ps 118:7). “I was hard pressed and falling, but the Lord came to my help.” (Ps 118:13).
He is our refuge and we need not rely on our own or on others’ strength or abilities. “Better to take refuge in the Lord than to put one’s trust in mortals.” (Ps 118:8).
With such a life, we have everything that we need and should want. The Lord Himself is our savior. He is our strength and our song.

Let us always “give thanks to the Lord, who is good, whose love endures forever.” (Ps 118:1). “Open the gates of victory; I will enter and thank the Lord.” (Ps 118:19).

Let there be joy in our hearts every day of our lives. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.” (Ps 118:24). Let our mouths always proclaim “the joyful shout of deliverance” (Ps 118:15a).

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