Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Twenty-Nine (Ordinary Time)
The Responsorial Psalm voices our desire to be faithful stewards who “bring out of our treasure what is new
and what is old” (Matthew 13: 52): “Lord, teach me your statutes ” (Psalm 119) — and keep teaching me.
Romans 7: 18-25 makes it clear that it isn’t enough just to know the laws of God. St. Paul said, “I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” That is why he said, “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.”
The Responsorial Psalm recognizes this. We ask God not just to “teach me your statutes,” but to “teach me wisdom,” the gift of appreciating spiritual things; “’let your compassion come to me that I may live… I am yours, save me.” Like St. Paul, we turn to Jesus: “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” We are saved, not by our efforts to keep the law (although we must make them), but by the faithful, rescuing love of God who sent his Son, not to give us “the good advice,” but the good news of his empowering grace, his guiding, strengthening Spirit poured out in our hearts. Of ourselves we can do nothing; we can’t even count on persevering in what we are doing. But we say with Paul, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). “Lord, teach me your statutes” — and empower me by your grace to live them!
In Luke 12: 54-59 Jesus confronts the crowds with the basic sin of legalists: their refusal to draw light and strength from the Holy Spirit within them. All they are concerned about is the simplified version of “law and orthodoxy” such as we find in Canon Law and catechisms. They can’t “interpret the present time,” or perceive God’s action in it. He asks, “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” instead of blindly following the letter of the law? We are not saved by straining to follow external directions, but by the light and strength of the Spirit showing us how to judge the true intent of the law according to the mind of God and empowering us to obey it according to his heart.
We are afraid to deal with the living God, to interact personally with Jesus and seek guidance from his Spirit. We say to the lawgivers what the Jews said to Moses, "You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die" (Exodus 20:19). Jesus urges us to confront God now and “settle matters“ through discernment, before coming face-to-face with him as judge. “Lord, teach me your statutes. ”
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Take responsibility for graced decisions.