Righteous Before God
“They were both righteous before God, walking blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.” This is what we heard in the Gospel story today related to the birth of Saint John the Baptist. Luke the Evangelist described St. John’s parents, Zachariah and Elizabeth, as both “righteous before God, walking blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.”
Think for a moment about how you would want to be seen by God. If today you came face to face with our Lord, how would you want God to describe your life? If He looked at how you lived, what you lived for, how you treated others, how you treated God Himself; if God looked at your life right now, what would He say about it?
Would He say you loved Him? Would He say you lived for Him? Would He say you tried to follow His teachings? Would He say you even knew what His teachings were? What would God say about you?
Would He say you spent time with Him in prayer, in silence, in meditation every day and throughout each day? Would He say you tried to learn what He taught, you studied Holy Scripture and the teachings of His Church, you knew what it meant to walk blameless in the commandments of the Lord?
Zachariah and Elizabeth both were “righteous before God, walking blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.” But what about each one of us?
Imagine if God did describe you in this manner, as righteous and walking blameless - how wonderful would that feel? To think that God sees how you live your life and He thinks you live righteous, meaning you live right with God, according to His way, and you live right with other people, what an incredible blessing that would be. It would mean that you are a person of integrity, honesty, mercy, and grace. You are a person who treats other people the way you want to be treated, with respect, dignity, kindness and love. You live a life of generosity and goodness towards God and towards all people, especially towards those in need. To live a righteous life means to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love you neighbor as yourself. It means to live a life like Jesus Christ.
And that should be the goal of every serious Christian. Unfortunately, how serious are we in our own Christian journey, in our pursuit for a righteous life?
Last week, we heard Jesus tell his followers to “seek first the kingdom of God” above all else. Making God the first and greatest priority in our lives, Christ said, should come before all else. Well, today when we remember the birthday of St John the Baptist, and read the Gospel story of his birth, we learn about parents who were considered “righteous before God, blamelessly walking in all the commandments of the Lord.”
Think of all the people we lift up in our contemporary society, and let us ask ourselves how many of famous people we adore would be called righteous and blameless before God? We lift up people because of their wealth, because of their fame, even because of their infamy. Someone is loud, obnoxious, arrogant, and rude, and we give them our attention, and sometimes even our adoration. Our society has lost its compass as to what is truly important, significant and noteworthy.
The Church lifts up, each and every day, different individuals who live righteous lives. They are called the saints. People like you and me in nature, yet people who strove to not only understand what the commandments of God are, but who struggled to live their lives according to what God taught, according to the Word of God. And each day we remember a saint, we need to ask ourselves, “Do I want to become like this saint? Am I interested in imitating his or her life, imitate them the way they imitated the life of Jesus Christ?”
We have to first have the knowledge of God’s way, then the desire and motivation to truly follow His path, then the will to obey God’s commandments in our lives. If we want to live like most of society, the path is quite easy. Most people take this road. We do whatever we want. Only the few, however, the brave, the serious, those committed to follow God because of their deep love for Him, will take a different path. Jesus called it the narrow and difficult path that leads to life.
Take time today to reflect on how you want God to see you and how you want Him to be remembered in life. Strive to live the righteous life blamelessly following His commandments, and then you will be remembered for all eternity in the kingdom of God.
Holy Father John the Righteous, disciple of St. Gregory of Decapolis; Euthemios the Enlightener of Karelia; Cosmas, Bishop of Calcydon; John the New Martyr of Epiros; Athanasia the Wonderworker of Aegina
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