Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Lent
The Responsorial Psalm is the "identity card" of God: "The Lord is gracious and merciful" (Psalm 145). This is a touchstone that tells us whether teaching or conduct that claims to be done in God's name is truly from God or not.
Isaiah 49: 8-15 describes God as one who frees people who are bound up in darkness. In contrast to this, how many people feel bound up and prohibited from freely approaching God or the sacraments because of rigid teaching that misled them?
The God Isaiah describes guides people to grassy pastures and "springs of living water," to teaching that responds to the thirst of our souls, that gives delight and nourishment to our minds and hearts. Is this what the people are doing whose concern is to identify and propagate the incomplete but "official" answers found in catechisms and summaries of Catholic doctrine? These "instant" answers have a usefulness as starting points for further investigation, or as "review" versions of truth already learned. But like dried fruits, they can- not substitute for the words of God coming fresh from the Scriptures or for the inspired teaching of the Councils of the Church (the sixteen decrees of Vatican II, for example, which are available for us to read in their inspired and inspiring freshness). People who think they can know the teaching of the Church just by studying "the answers" listed in dry summarizing sources are like students who think they can experience English literature by studying "Cliff notes." This is not discipleship; it is self-deception.
In Luke 5: 17-30 Jesus bases his case against the Pharisees on the fact that he knows the Father. He is in live, personal, direct contact with God as a person. He speaks out of his awareness and experience of the Father's love for him. And because the Father "shows him everything that he himself does" - and this is the Lord who is "gracious and merciful" - the words and actions of Jesus are also gracious and merciful and life-giving. "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life" - not just to those who conform to the Pharisees' ideas of morality, but "to whomever he wishes." Jesus does not push away people who seek him. He does not reject those who are in situations not sanctioned by law. He is the Lord of life, and the "identity card" of those who are acting in his name is that they are allowing him to bring people to life through them.
Initiative: Be a disciple. Read the documents of Vatican II. Try to absorb the spirit and vision of the Church. Read the writings of the Saints.