April 21, 2017
FRIDAY, first week of Easter
Our life has to be built on interacting with Jesus, consulting his mind, responding to his inspirations, relying on his strength. The Christian life is a life of constant interaction with the living person of Jesus Christ, who is with us and within us.
Acts 4: 1-12 contrasts Israel’s “leaders, elders and scribes… and all who were of the high-priestly caste” with the disciples of Jesus. For the authorities and those publicly recognized as leaders in Israel, Jesus was “the stone rejected by the builders.” But for those who believe, he “has become the cornerstone” — of the Church, of life, and of that “life to the full” which is salvation. “There is no salvation through anyone [or anything] else.” If we want to “have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10), we have to deal with Jesus.
What other options are there?
The most common wrong choice — for religious people, that is — is to build their lives and base their security on keeping God’s law. But the people who do this do not build their lives on God’s deepest, most fundamental and all-embracing laws — such as “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5); “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (changed by Jesus to “Love one another just as I have loved you” John 13:34); and : “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself” (Leviticus 19: 18, 34). These are all general principles that require us to think instead of spelling out what we should do. Rather, they focus on concrete rules, usually of minor (although sometimes real) importance, and they obey them rigidly, refusing the responsibility of personal interpretation and the challenge of prophetic application to particular situations. This is called legalism. It was the religion of the Pharisees and the “chief priests,” who rejected Jesus because he was summoning them to interact with the living God. The prophets are those who try to apply rules and principles to concrete circumstances according to the mind of God — by interacting with the Spirit of Jesus within them.
John 21: 1-14 gives us a guideline for discerning whether an inspiration is from God. The disciples knew “it was the Lord” whose voice they were following when they saw the fruit his instructions bore. We should ask if the choices we make are life-giving.
Take Initiative: Be a prophet. Focus on the living Jesus, not on the dead letter of law.