March 22, 2017
Wednesday, Lent Week Three
“Praise the Lord, Jerusalem”
Why does the Responsorial (Psalm 147) invite us to praise?
Deuteronomy 4: 1-9 says God’s laws are so good and just that if we live by them people will say, “This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.”
We would be, if we had written them. But since they were given to us by God, we can only claim credit for being smart enough to recognize how good they are. And the jury is still out on whether we are that smart or not.
Have you ever given thought to how wise God’s laws are? How much sense it makes to live by them? How they enhance our life on earth?
Most of us weren’t taught to do this. Our teachers may have thought it would be motivation enough just to know these are God’s commands. But it isn’t.
When you confess a sin in Confession, does the priest ever ask you, “Why does God command (or forbid) that?” Do you ever ask the question yourself?
Some unenlightened teachers discourage questioning, especially about religion. But God is disappointed if we do not question everything he tells us. Christianity, the religion of “God-made-human,” calls us to be always, as much as possible, “fully human and fully divine.” We know by divine faith that God is always right. But he wants us to know it with our human intelligence as well. Theology (study of the “logos” or intelligibility of God) is defined as “faith seeking understanding.” That is a good definition of discipleship.
Deuteronomy urges us emphatically to life-long discipleship: “Take care, be earnestly on your guard not to forget.” We should not allow to “slip from memory” the things we have learned from teachers, from reflection on God’s word, from experience, as “long as we live.” The Scripture says, “Teach them to your children and to your children’s children.” We ourselves should teach them. This is the word of God.
In Matthew 5: 17-19 Jesus gives the key to the New Law he teaches in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew, chapters 5-7): “I have come, not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.” The Law enhances life. Jesus came that we might ‘have life, and have it to the full.” So his New Law fulfills or “fills full” the old. How?
In a word, by changing their goal. The Commandments are the “manufacturer’s instructions” for getting the most here on earth out of the human nature God designed for us. If we live by them, even the “nations” will see us as a “wise and intelligent people.” People who know how to live on this earth.
But the New Law gives guidelines for living on the level of God. “Those who fulfill and teach these commands” will not just earn respect as good human beings. They “shall be great in the kingdom of God.” That is, in the milieu of those who live by the divine life of God, directed from within by the mind and heart of God, which has become their own. “Praise the Lord!”
Initiative: Challenge everything — not to doubt, but to understand.