Responding is relational,
Our dog lies here next to me while I am writing. The nano-moment he hears somebody, either in the kitchen or perhaps heading that way, he is in mid-air and with a determined vector. He is reacting and hoping that whoever is in the kitchen will become generously relational.
We believe in a personal, constantly-communicating and loving God. We then, are the “communicated-to” but we have the puppy-like ability to react as if there is an incident rather than an invitation. Responding depends on a habit of listening to life for its gifts rather than pouncing on everything as if they were threats, annoyances and bothering.
To be responsive as a spirituality depends on our expecting surprises or making sure they never happen. Responding is a trusting; reacting is a fencing.
In the fourth chapter of the book of Deuteronomy, from which the verses are taken for our First Reading of this liturgy, Moses gives two long speeches. Our reading is taken from the first. There is much of an historical presentation in both speeches before the laying down of the law. Fruitful land and fruitful families are the promised results of Israel’s keeping the laws which will be the heart of Israel’s response to God.
The living God has been active in their collective past and in a way, Moses is telling the people, “And don’t forget that either!”
This mysterious God relies on Israel’s scale of values to display divine care. Coming out of Egypt, from slavery, they had no land of their own and no future for their survival. Land and family productivity was the number one value, and so we hear Moses telling his people that the God Who saved them from has also saved them for a future of displays or revelations. Their pasts are leading to their futures and their futures will allow them to know their God more intimately. There is a “trinity of time” then, the unknown God has come a bit out of hiding and becomes the God of Israel’s present. The God of the future reveals the ways that the people will stay of God. The old saying holds true for his listeners, “Keep the rules and the rules will keep you.”
Today’s Gospel presents Jesus in the last verses of Matthew’s account of the life, death and resurrection of the Lord. Like Moses, Jesus gave His first instruction on a mountain of Beatitudes and here at the end Jesus is giving an instruction about their futures. Jesus announces that all power has been entrusted to Him and He is sharing that with His disciples. They are to use this power to make new disciples and including them into the circle of power through baptism. Jesus commits Himself to His being with them all and for ever. They are to announce that all they do will be in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
This power is not for domination, control, manipulation nor confinement. It is the power which Jesus used through out His public life. It was and is the power and authority of relationship and responsibility. The commandments of Moses were to keep the Israelites separated and uncontaminated by associations with other traditions, cults and nations. Jesus gives this new way of extending the relationships within the Trinity to the “Trinification” of the world. The power of the intensity of love within the Trinity is to now be trans-national; all nations are to be touched.
The disciples are given the power to relate with the responsibility of caring. Jesus has not laid down the laws in an “or else” spirit. Jesus has announced in His days, that all of creation is of the love of God. So again there is a “Trinity of Time” in which creation has a past, has been clarified as to its identity by the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus and it has a destiny to become the kingdom of powerful relations. The disciples are the beginning actors in baptizing the world from its false perceptions and identities. They are to extend the creative Spirit of love in reidentifying all of creation, including us, as belonging to that kingdom. We, as with the Israelites, are to be saved from and saved for the power of love. The power of Jesus is the interior of the Trinity and all of creation is enfolded into such a love.
“Blessed be God the Father and His only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit: for He has shown that He loves us.” Entrance Antiphon for this liturgy
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