In Christianity Spirit Trumps Law
Twenty-Eighth Week of Year II Wednesday October 12, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm promises: “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life” (Psalm 1).
In Galatians 5: 18-25 Paul tells us we have a guide much more demanding than the law, although never dominating: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”
If we surrender to living by the Spirit of God we will not feel restricted or micro-managed. We won’t be always “performing” under the eye of a judgmental critic, always trying to live up to someone else’s standards, even God’s.
God doesn’t govern that way.
“By contrast,” what we experience when we surrender to living by the Spirit is “love, joy, peace… “ and a sense of being free and respected by God that lets us, in our dealings with others, show “patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
When we surrender to living by the Spirit poured out in our hearts, we change on the level of our deepest desires. We change interiorly. Freely. We choose to “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires” — meaning, not that we are torturing ourselves, but that we have given up the life we had on a merely human level to live the divine life of God which we received when we “died and rose with Christ” in Baptism.1
We have a new goal, a new purpose in life; new principles, attitudes and values. In living by the Spirit we are not conforming to something or someone outside of us, but being true to ourselves. We have a new guidance system, and it is ours: “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.” Inside of them.
A steward is not someone who just takes orders. Stewards have decision-making freedom, because they have made the mind of the master their own. They are “one heart and soul” with the one they serve.2
In Luke 11: 42-46 Jesus criticized the law-addicts precisely because they did not seek union of mind and heart with God. Their behavior was self-serving. It made them feel righteous and secure. Or it made them look good and superior to others. But they were not focused on “justice,” or the good of other people, “and the love of God.” Even worse, those whose job it was to interpret and apply the laws did not respect the intention of the lawgivers. They “loaded people with burdens” and did not “lift a finger to ease them.” In the Church the “law of all laws” is “Feed my sheep.”3 No application of law is legal if it does not do this.
1See Romans 6: 3-8. 2See Acts 4:32; Deuteronomy 4:29; 11:18. 3John 21: 15-17.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Interpret laws faithfully. Let love rule.