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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

The Spirit Of Jesus

Thursday, May 11, 2023, Fifth Week of Easter

by Fr. David M. Knight

View readings for today:

The Responsorial Psalm directs us to focus our attention on what God is doing, and to let that guide our judgments about human behavior: “Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations” (Psalm 96). In particular, our interpretation of laws should be based on what we experience the Spirit doing in the Church. This is what the readings teach us. In Acts 15: 7-21 the“Apostles and presbyters” resolved the dissension between the missionaries and the Pharisee party in the Church by basing their decision on three things. First was the spiritual experience that Peter, Paul and the missionaries had of the Holy Spiritblessing their work among the Gentiles. Peter reminded them that God chose “that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the Gospel and believe. And God… bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit just as he did us” (see Acts 10 and note the immediateopposition of the Pharisee party, Acts 11: 1-18).Then “Barnabas and Paul… told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles.” Second, James quoted God’s words in scripture to show how “the words of the prophets agree with this.” Finally, their conclusion reflects political sensitivity to the feelings of the Jewish Christians. The Gentile converts were asked to give up some foods that were especially abhorrent to Jews. These restrictions disappeared as their cause ceased to be an issue. In their discussion and discernment, the Apostles and elders were in fact following Jesus’ instructions in John 15: 9-11: Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.” Their focus was on love, not law observance. The “commandments” Jesus urged them to keep were his own, not the rules and regulations already established in Judaism. And the greatestof his commands was simply,“Love one another as I love you.” Their decision was guided by their desire to love the Gentiles as Jesus loves all. Jesus told them to keep his commandments “just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.” This focuses us on mission, because that is what the Father sent Jesus to do. And it coincides with Jesus’ great command to Peter: “If you love me, feed my sheep” (John 21: 15-17). To truly obey Jesus with love, we must love and nurture his sheep. That is what guided the community’s decision about what to impose and not impose on the Gentile converts. And that is the spirit that must guide us all today. To do this we must have the courage to interpret laws in the light of the Spirit and their pastoral purpose. Pope Francis said in his closing address that this is what the2015 Synod on Family Life was all about: “bringing the joy of hope without falling into a facile repetition of what is obvious or has already been said…

“It was about seeing difficulties and uncertainties in the light of the Faith, carefully studying them and confronting them fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand…

“about listening to and making heard the voices of the families and the Church’s pastors…

“about showing the vitality of the Catholic Church, which is not afraid to stir dulled consciences or to soil her hands with lively and frank discussions about the family… “about trying to view and interpret today’s realities through God’s eyes, so as to kindle the flame of faith and enlighten people’s hearts in times marked by

discouragement, social, economic and moral crisis, and growing pessimism…

“about bearing witness to everyone that, for the Church, the Gospel continues to be a vital source of eternal newness, against all those who would “indoctrinate” it in dead stones to be hurled at others…

“about laying bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families…

“about making clear that the Church is a Church… not simply of the righteous and the holy, but rather of those who are righteous and holy precisely when they feel themselves to be poor sinners.

“It was about trying to open up broader horizons… so as to defend and spread the freedom of the children of God, and to transmit the beauty of Christian Newness, at times encrusted in a language which is archaic or simply incomprehensible.”

This is the Spirit of Jesus, the true spirit of the Church.

Initiative: Be a prophet. Look to the goal of each law and do what will achieve it.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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