Meditations on the Psalms, The Christian Life #6, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

cover of the ebook 'Meditations on the Psalms, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox'

Psalm 14

Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle? or who shall rest in thy holy hill? He that walketh without blemish, and worketh justice: He that speaketh truth in his heart, who hath not used deceit in his tongue: Nor hath done evil to his neighbour: nor taken up a reproach against his neighbours. In his sight the malignant is brought to nothing: but he glorifieth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his neighbour, and deceiveth not; He that hath not put out his money to usury, nor taken bribes against the innocent: He that doth these things shall not be moved for ever.

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Justice Towards Our Neighbour

First Point. No one can truly approach perfection till his common faults are conquered. The tabernacle of God among his ancient people was approached by a court, where stood the brazen altar on which sacrifices were made for sin as if to symbolize the purity demanded of the ministers before they should enter the holy place. So it is with all who would strive after sanctification; they have to strive first of all to purge themselves of the sins that mar their daily life; the burden that weighs us down, the fetters that clog our feet, must be left behind before we ascend the mountain of perfection, with its finer airs and wider prospects. This does not merely mean caring for our own souls, by avoiding as far as possible the stains left upon our character by the world and the flesh; we all, to some extent, have our social duties, whose punctual performance must be part of our way of purgation: even if we retired into the cloister, we could not altogether neglect the claims of human society.

Second Point. The duty of truthfulness. The heathen philosopher said that the lie on his lips was of little importance; he only was truly wretched who had the lie in his soul. It is of this that our Lord speaks when he tells us to have “a single eye”; no frivolous caprice, no merely personal prejudice, must blind our judgments of men and matters; we must be honest with our selves, whether in civic or in private life. And we must speak the truth not merely by avoiding false statements, but by being careful not to give wrong impressions, not to repeat as a fact what we only know on doubtful authority, and so on. We must do no evil to our neighbour: our Lord has taught us that all the world is our neighbour, but we have especially to watch our conduct towards our rivals and competitors, who are here called our neighbours: do we scrupulously avoid the chances we get of taking an unfair advantage of them? Do we, when others criticise them and tell stories to their discredit, forget the scandal; or do we treasure it up and eagerly retail it, regard less whether the interests of truth and charity are served thereby?

Third Point. The duty of honesty. The world around us is full of people who are making money and securing advancement by unscrupulous and even fraudulent means; the Christian will not even be moved to jealousy of spiritual good; far less will he imitate these methods. He will regard his promise, once given, as binding, even though it be to his own disadvantage. He will use his worldly wealth as a stewardship from God, contributing to the needs of the poor and of the Church, avoiding “gambling” investments, careful, as far as he may be, that he is not, either as employer or as customer, deriving profit from the ill-paid or over-driven labour of others. He will not let his free judgment, either in public or in private life, be biased through fear, favour, or worldly advantage. These habits of truth and honesty, so often neglected, ought to be the sure foundation of the Christian’s conduct.

Acts: Detestation of falsehood and dishonesty; resolve to examine carefully the claims of justice on our conscience; prayer for innocence.

Colloquy with God who is the Truth, and has no respect of persons.