7 Sept 2016
Jesus did not give us a detailed instruction book on how to live. Yes, he said to love our neighbor and to be forgiving; but what if those who have trespassed against us aren’t sorry? What if our neighbor is somebody we really ought to keep at a distance?
What about politics and voting? After all, Jesus isn’t running for public office—flawed human beings are; who are you supposed to vote for? And what about decisions regarding health, especially end-of-life decisions where suddenly the choice to live or die is placed in our hands? What are we supposed to do? Jesus didn’t give us a detailed instruction book to answer these questions. But he did give us principles.
This is how Saint Paul can say, “I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. So this is what I think best because of the present distress . . . .” And the principle he employs is found in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.”
The divine principle Saint Paul uses is one that says: “It is better to put your hopes in what is eternal, rather than in what only temporarily fulfills.” It’s the principle that underlies the Beatitudes, as well as Saint Paul’s “opinion.” You know, Jesus could’ve said, “The pleasures of earth are fine, but there’s something more in store—just remember that;” but he didn’t. Instead, he gave us a principle.
And, in many ways, a principle is more helpful and more merciful than a list of black-and-white commandments—because principles can be applied to all those life situations that Jesus didn’t explicitly talk about; all those life situations which aren’t touched on in the pages of Sacred Scripture.
And so, if we’re ever at a loss for what to do in life, instead of praying for an answer, try praying for the principle that will lead to an answer. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a single principle is worth a thousand answers.