Thus says the Lord: “Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.
“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant — these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Pause. Pray. Reflect.
It’s hard to do what is right. I hear these words in relation to my daily life. Do I join myself to the Lord, minister to Him, love His name, give myself as his servant, keep the Sabbath and not profane it, and hold fast His covenant? Not all the time. Some of the time, maybe. There are days when I find it easier, and there are days when I’m not sure it’s even worth trying. Reaching the holy mountain feels like such a tall order, such a gargantuan task. And it’s not somewhere that I can reach within this lifetime. What does it mean to do what is right?
I have an instinctive sense of what it means. I’ve always assumed that this felt, innate sense is my conscience. And what is my conscience? Something built into me by God, I think. The whisper of the Holy Spirit, perhaps, combined with the teachings of the Church, and wisdom and advice on how to live given by my parents and other significant mentors. I can let it steer me straight, like an arrow, but the straightest path is not always the easiest, nor can I always see where I’m going.
It’s hard to keep your eyes fixed on the holy mountain when you live on the ground. I grew up in the foothills outside Calgary, and the Rockies were always visible in the distance – sometimes swathed in heavy cloud or snow; sometimes blue and misty, almost blurred; and sometimes clear as day, so crisp and sharply etched you felt you could reach out and touch them. Always in the background, sometimes seemingly closer.
Salvation has indeed already come, in the person of Jesus Christ and in His death and resurrection. We are all invited to God’s holy mountain, to share in the great joy of that house of prayer. But we need a great measure of perseverance and patience to get there. We need to keep our eyes fixed on the Cross, though clouds and obstacles may obscure our vision and test our willpower. We need to listen to that still, small voice inside of us that will steer us right.
Yes, it’s hard to do what is right. But so much awaits us, if we can persevere. And the part we forget is that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He knows that we’re going to make mistakes, fall away, busy ourselves with scaling less holy mountains. And He offers us forgiveness, a gift of love that makes no sense to our untrusting hearts but that He offers unceasingly nonetheless.
So let us strive to do what is right, trusting in His goodness and mercy.