Our Duty To Judge
Twenty-Eighth Week of Year II Monday October 10, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm celebrates (verse 8) obedience to God’s laws as a blessing that “lifts us up” to “make [us] sit with princes”: “Blessed be the name of the Lord forever” (Psalm 113).
In Galatians 4: 22 to 5:1 Paul tells us that obedience to Christ frees us from slavish obedience to laws. “Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
The “yoke of slavery” is mindless conformity to human rules, doing exactly what they say without exercising personal judgment. We see an example in priests and laity who follow all the liturgical instructions in the book without asking whether a particular rule will help their own community celebrate the Eucharist with greater understanding and joy or not.
In the Catholic Church (and in St. Paul’s theology) it is considered disobedience to obey like this. The basic principle is that no one should do what a rule says without first asking whether this will achieve the goal of the rule. True obedience is not to do what a legislator says, but to achieve what the legislator wants. And every lawmaker knows that it is impossible to make a law that will “work” in every country, culture and particular community if applied exactly as it is written.
To decide freely in particular cases whether it would be good to do what a rule says is responsible stewardship. Every right is given in virtue of an obligation. We have the right to judge whether conformity to a rule will achieve its purpose here and now because we are obliged to. Because we are consecrated “stewards of the kingship of Christ” by Baptism, we are committed to responsible, discerning leadership in the work of establishing God’s reign.
Vatican Council II called for “collaborative ministry” in the Church. This summons every member of the Church to “sit with… the princes of the people” (Responsorial Psalm, verse 8) to discern what should be done.
Luke 11: 29-32 tells us that future generations will condemn “this generation” because we knew that Jesus gave us “something greater than Solomon” in the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out in our hearts. But we refuse to listen to the Spirit, or even to ask what the Spirit is saying in the Church, in our own community or in our individual hearts. We prefer to conform blindly and irresponsibly to general rules, claiming that they dispense us from questioning, reflecting, judging and discerning. This is to “submit again to a yoke of slavery” while Jesus summons us as “faithful stewards” to take up the responsibility of freedom.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Judge everything in the light of reality and the Holy Spirit.