The Spirit Of The Church
FRIDAY, Easter week five: April 29, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm is the exclamation of one who rejoices in God’s saving love for all people: “I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord ” (Psalm 57).
In Acts 15: 22-31 we see this saving love embodied in the Church’s response to the Gentile converts. The community disclaims those who “without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind.” The Apostles and presbyters confidently affirm, “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities….”
The spirit of the Church guided by the Spirit is the exact opposite of what Jesus condemned in the Pharisees and “scribes,” or specialists in the application of the law: “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them” (Matthew 23:2-4; Luke 11:46). The spirit that should always prevail in the Church is the spirit Jesus expressed when he said, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
This is the spirit of the prophets, who look, not to the letter of the law, but to the goal of the law, conscious that the intention that governs and determines the goal of every law or regulation in the Church is Jesus’ commission to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” In fulfilling this command we know that we truly love him and those to whom he has sent us (see John 21: 15-17).
The freedom of spirit with which prophets approach laws is rooted in Jesus’ words at the Last Supper (John 15: 12-17): “I no longer call you servants, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” Prophets try to judge out of intimate knowledge of God’s mind and heart. Because of this the prophets are constantly ministering to others as priests (by Baptism). This is to live Christ’s love. Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.” To minister, serving the needs of others, is literally to “give one’s life” for others, because every minute we give to another in service is a minute of our life. On this earth life and time are synonymous; for any one of us they begin and end together.
Jesus who gave us the commandment, “love one another as I love you” told us later, “I chose you to go and bear fruit.” We show our love for God and others by constantly giving expression to the life of God in us in order to communicate it to others.
Initiative: Be a prophet. Listen, learn and live by the heart (love) of Christ.