10 June 2016
What God asks of us is pretty simple and straightforward: Love God, love your neighbors, proclaim the gospel to all. It’s simple; it’s clear—kind of like the “strong and heavy wind,” the “earthquake,” and the “fire” we hear about in Elijah’s story. It’s also clear and simple like the Ten Commandments: “Love the Lord your God; Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain; Remember to keep holy the Sabbath; and so on."
What God asks of us is pretty simple and straightforward; it’s hard to miss. But there’s also more to it; there’s a lot of depth and nuance to what God asks. As we heard, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you . . .” In other words, there’s more to it than simply the commandment.
And at the mountain of God, Elijah sees and hears the loud clashing of the wind, the earthquake, and the fire. But then comes . . . the whisper; there comes the depth of meaning God wants to reveal to Elijah. What God asks of us is pretty simple and straightforward, but there’s always more to the story.
It’s one of the great gifts of the Catholic Church—we really try to dig into the meaning of what God is saying. For instance, the Fifth Commandment: “Thou shall not kill.” And yet sometimes to kill in self-defense is permissible. There’s the commandment, and the nuanced understanding of the commandment.
And we can apply this approach to God’s law in many areas of life. For instance, God said: “Honor your father and your mother.” But what if someone’s parents were abusive? The commandment doesn’t go out the window; but it needs to be more deeply understood; we have to be quiet enough to hear God whispering to us a good interpretation of that commandment.
Or, what about the commandment to “love your enemies?” It’s simple and clear. And, yet, sometimes it does more harm than good to try to love your enemies. It’s an extreme example, but, you know, terrorists aren’t really that interested in being loved. Satan isn’t interested in being loved. The commandment is still there: “Love your enemies.” But, exactly how we do that, has to be considered with intelligence and with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Church.
What God asks of us is pretty simple and straightforward. But there’s always more to it than just the commandment. Behind the strong wind of clarity comes the gentle breeze of nuance. May we be still enough to let that breeze show us the way.