We need a Christ Who will restore moral indignation, Who will make us hate evil with a passionate intensity, and love goodness to a point where we can drink death like water.
–Ven. Fulton Sheen (in his Life of Christ)
I can’t get that last phrase, “drink death like water,” out of my mind.
I know that the Christ we worship in the West of the present-day is not Christ the King, Christ the Lawgiver, Christ the Judge. If He were, our entire culture, both inside and outside of each parish church building, would be different.
God’s justice is a part of His mercy. Without His just Divine Judgment, there would have been no reason for Him to save us from eternal damnation for our sins. The opposite of sin is grace, grace manifested in our lives as virtue. So when we keep in mind that God is a just Judge, it will make us understand what evil does to us, and then we will hate evil above anything else. That’s why Catholics meditate on the four last things (Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell) before going to sleep.
Today’s fuzzy and feel-good approach towards religion and morality have made mainstream Catholics subscribe to the 1960’s/70’s idea of Christ-as-Supreme-Social-Worker. Only seeing Him in this context, millions believe, will He inspire us to take care of the poor. Since He was a social reformer above all things, they say, being like Him will require us to agitate for social reform.
But the real source of injustice and human suffering is human sin. Each of us will face the Just Judge at the end of our lives, and His personal evaluation of how we combatted sin during our time on earth. Did we turn from the evil things that destroy souls and societies? Did we truly show love to our fellow humans, our fellow Christians, and for the Church that Christ loves? Did we pray for His graces to make us good, holy, and virtuous? Meditating on these questions now, each day, as we think forward to our personal judgments will bring us ever-closer to doing God’s Will in the service of our families, neighbors, and the poor everywhere–like nothing else can!
Christ the Judge will teach us to love goodness in this life, and then we will face our deaths with complete serenity and even–joy. What an amazing connection. Thank you, Archbishop Sheen! Ora pro nobis.