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Getting Ready and Being Blameless

The First Reading and the Gospel both talk about a time when the Lord comes—for justice, as the First Reading says; and for judgment, as the Gospel implies. In the Gospel, Jesus warns people not to be overcome with the pleasures and anxieties of the world but to be ready for his coming. Those who are not ready will practically die of fright when they see him.

Well, then, what do we need to do to get ready?

Christians need to increase in love and abound in it.

The Second Reading in effect answers that question. At Christ’s coming again, we are to be blameless in holiness.

And what is that?

If you are blameless under law, then no one can blame you for any violation of the law of the land. You weren’t speeding, for example, or cheating on your income tax, or violating any other law of the city or country in which you are.

 If you are morally blameless, then no one can blame you for any violation of the moral law. You weren’t lying, for example, or cheating on your spouse, or violating any other command of the universal moral law that applies to all people no matter where they are.

But what is it to be blameless in holiness? The answer is in the Second Reading: in order to be ready for Christ at his coming, Christians need to increase in love and abound in it.

So here’s the thing to see.

You can keep all the laws of your land and still be a real jerk. And the same truth holds for the moral law. You can be a priggishly righteous jerk too. Something more than having a great record for keeping the laws is necessary to be ready for the Lord.

That more is love.

If you want what is bad for your neighbor, if you curse him in public or even in your heart, if you wish he would just go away, if you tell him in your thoughts or to his face to go to hell—you do not love him. And you are blameworthy with regard to holiness if you don’t. It doesn’t matter how moral or legal your conduct is otherwise.

To be blameless in holiness, then, takes being loving. And being loving is what makes us ready for the return of the Lord.

Eleonore Stump

Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University

Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go