Immersed in Christ: May 4, 2020
Monday, Week Four of Easter
The Responsorial (Psalm 42) specifies the effect the Liturgy of the Word should have on us: “Athirst is my soul for the living God.” Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, as God speaks to us through the readings, we should find ourselves saying, “Were not our hearts burning within us... while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 1
In Acts 11: 1-18 the same thing happened to the Gentiles to whom Peter was sent to explain the Good News of Jesus. “While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word,” and they began “speaking in tongues and extolling God.” Faced with this, Peter set aside all the rules and policies: “‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” 2
This was a major conversion on Peter’s part, and it led to a community decision that defined the Church as “catholic.” 3 Peter — and after him the Church — realized that Christianity was not identified with keeping the Jewish rules and customs all the first Christians had grown up with, such as circumcision, dietary laws, prescribed sacrifices and devotional practices. It started when God told Peter in a vision to eat food the Jews were forbidden to eat. “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.”
Obedience to the Spirit takes precedence over obedience to the Law, even though both are from God.
When did we learn this? When did our obedience to the word of God become personal response to God’s living voice? When did we, as disciples, develop into prophets? When did we learn, in keeping laws, to look first to their goal, and to respond, not to their letter, but to the mind and heart of God behind them? This was our passage into maturity.
We express this liturgically in the Presentation of Gifts, which follows the Liturgy of the Word. Having heard God’s living voice in the readings, we present ourselves to be transformed — not just the way human choices based on human understanding can change us, but as the bread which represents us will be transformed from bread “earth has given” into the “Bread of life.” We who have already “become Christ” by Baptism recommit to living by the Spirit as prophets, living on the level of God.
In John 10: 1-10 Jesus tells us, “Whoever does not enter the sheepfold by the gate... is a thief and a bandit.” Later he clarifies, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be safe.” Safe from what?
From everything, really. But in the context, what keeps us safe from the deadly virus of legalism in the Church — the temptation to focus our religion on observing rules — is personal relationship with Christ. Only through direct, constant, personal interaction with the person of Jesus as prophets can we “recognize his voice.”
Initiative: Focus on Jesus. Let everything follow from this. Use the “WIT” prayer all day long: “Lord, do this with me, do this in me, do this through me.