"Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. Happy are they who observe His decrees, who seek Him with all their heart, and do no wrong, but walk in His ways. You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept. Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes!" (Ps.118:1-5). Thus begins Psalm 118 (119), all one hundred seventy-six verses of it, each verse a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for the righteous and saving decrees which flow from the heart of our Good and Loving God, Who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1Tim.2:4). St. Paul in today's Epistle picks up the theme: "Even as you have learned from us how you ought to walk to please God-as indeed you are walking-we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus to make even greater progress" (1Thess.4:1).
Walking to please God means walking in the truth, following Our Lord Jesus Christ - the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn.14:4). Many think they can drift along enjoying life without God, or find salvation in a way of their own choosing, but those who don't make a deliberate decision to follow Christ inevitably find themselves following the devil. As Jesus says, "He who is not with me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters" (Lk.11:23). St. Ignatius of Loyola in his famous Spiritual Exercises speaks of the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, and the necessity of choosing to follow one or the other. Either we follow Jesus Christ, or we find ourselves enslaved by some worldly myth riddled with the devil's lies.
"For there will come a time," says St. Paul, "when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lusts, and they will turn away their hearing from the truth and turn aside rather to fables" (2Tim.4:3,4). If you don't accept Christian truth you are condemned to accept one myth or the other that you can live by, some explanation for the world, which gives meaning to your daily existence, at least for a time.
There was, for instance, the myth of democracy, Western style, which is now passing away. Our leaders are too embarrassed to talk much about it now, since they know it no longer exists. It has fulfilled its purpose. Now we can look forward to the myth of the New World Order.
Many are motivated by religious myth even to the point of fanaticism, such as those who follow the false teachings of Mohammed. It is being said now that we can win the war and the peace. It is a vain hope to expect that there will be peace as a result of the planned unnecessary and unjustified attack by the U.S. against Iraq, where twelve million children live in fear for their lives, and where 34 Catholic Bishops of the Chaldean Rite pray that their flocks may be spared. Every Iraqi life lost will have to be avenged, according to the Law of Talion: "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth." There will be no forgiveness, no forgetting, but an endless debt of retaliation against the United States and its allies.
And consider the relentless thirst of the Jews for what they call justice against those considered responsible for the so-called Holocaust. All Gentiles, and especially Catholics, must bear the burden of guilt, as we are constantly reminded by the endless stream of Oscar-nominated movies and documentaries about the misfortunes of the Jews. For them there is no forgiveness.
Even the Vatican has its myths. But it will have to come up with something better than its illusory dream of building a "civilization of peace and love" based, not on faith in Jesus Christ, but on dialogue between the followers of Mohammed, Zionist followers of the Jewish Talmud, Hindu yogis, Evangelical Christians, secular humanists, and other "men of good will."
Already in the first century A.D., St. Peter was talking about the futility of life in a world without Christ: "And if you invoke as Father him who without respect of persons judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves with fear in the time of your sojourning. You know that you were redeemed from the vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, not with perishable things, with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Foreknown, indeed, before the foundation of the world, He has been manifested in the last times for your sakes. Through Him you are believers in God who raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope might be in God" (1Pet.1:17-21).
Forgiveness and peace will come only when all nations are washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb and pledge their obedience to Christ the King, Who taught: "You have heard that it was said, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and shalt hate thy enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heavenů" (Mt.5:43-45).
St. Peter from his own personal account of the Transfiguration, which recalls today's Gospel, reminds us that the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory are God's revealed truth, and no myth: "For we were not following fictitious tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of His grandeur. For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when from out the majestic glory a voice came down to Him, speaking thus: 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.' And this voice we ourselves heard from heaven when we were with him on the holy mount" (2 Peter 1:19-21).
"Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. Happy are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart, and do no wrong, but walk in his ways. You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept. Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes!" (Ps.118:1-5).