The Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God. Among men, who knows what pertains to the man except his spirit that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God.
As the Christian movement spread among Jews throughout the known world, and then to gentiles who proved to be equally excited about Jesus Christ, the disciples found themselves reeling in a world of confusion. Old barriers, especially those between Jews and gentiles, had broken down. Slaves, free persons and slave owners worshipped together. Women uttered prophecies. Disreputable people became saints and martyrs. Saint Paul’s Corinthian congregation was a polyglot of “people of color,” speaking different languages and wearing odd clothes. If two men agreed on anything they were hard pressed to find a third. There seemed be no “common sense” about anything and yet they all loved the Lord Jesus.
If there was any reliable guide it had to be the Spirit of God, that same spirit which had driven Jesus from Nazareth to Jerusalem, from the river to the wilderness to the city.
Suffering “future shock,” we too wonder where do we go from here. What are we supposed to do? There seems to be no common sense about anything.
As the first Jesuit Pope, Francis speaks of discernment and the right disposition. There might be a textbook answer to some problems but it probably won’t help. Rather we have to ask God, “What do you want me to do? and “What do you want us to do?” The odds are good the forthcoming answer will not be predictable.
Pope Francis especially asks us to pray for the right disposition, to be disposed to hear the Holy Spirit. An old solution to a contemporary problem might help but the old attitude will not.
Some years ago, amid the controversy one cardinal declared, “We don’t have to dialogue; we already know the answer!” But we do have to dialogue because there are people involved, each with his and her own attitudes, sensibilities, experience, opinions and beliefs. The church has learned that people have a right to participate in decisions that affect their wellbeing. It’s not enough to expect and demand obedience; there are no slaves among us.
The Lord has given two commandments, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your strength… and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He didn’t say we must agree on everything. We are first a people of communion; our truth is rooted in our unity. We seek that deep understanding and respect that friends have for one another, especially those friends who have quarreled and learned to honor their differences. Our obedience is joyful, willing and generous; never repressed, fearful and resentful. Only the Spirit who “scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God” can effect this unity among us.