The value of spiritual life (Deuteronomy 5,1-21; Acts 5,12-6,7.)
The Lord who is Lord of life, wants to confirm us: our life is precious in his sight. ‘The Lord Our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.’ When one appreciates his or he life and is aware of its value then the value of the world in which we life opens up for us in its full weight. Being valuated by God we start recognising the dignity and value of the world which surrounds us. Our own value in the sight of God also shows the value of the lives of those people with whom we have contact, and of those whom we do not know. So when we look at the Holy Body of Christ on the Altar, we face our God, who loves us; who confirms our unique value. ‘The Lord talked with you face in the mount of the midst of the fire.’
When we experience how precious we are in the sight of God, his glance shines into the depth of our lives. In this loving exchange, we are called to recall the past events of our lives. Whatever we did, good and bad, God embraces us as a whole. He valuates us with our full story. The events of our lives are marked by his Providence. ‘I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.’
The term ‘spiritual life’ is very biblical. This is the nature of having a spiritual life that we reflect on our past, present and future. This Adoration of the Eucharist is an encouragement that we can recall past events. We can revisit them. Not only for the purpose of being assured of God’s healing of our past. There is a communal element in this recollection. When we give thanks for the healing of past events or the joys and gifts of the past, this is an opportunity to pray for those who were involved in those events.
‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’. This is a call that we have to work on our spiritual life. Having a physical life or biological life (day-to-day businesses of life) is not enough. We need to acquire a spiritual life; a spiritual face. This life and this face is not fragile, not perishable. It is marked by God’s love. It is through this ‘contact of our faces’, between ours and God’s that his Spirit keeps us alive, really alive.
‘Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.’ This jealousy of God is one of the most intriguing feature of God. In view of the above said, it has an important meaning in terms of our spiritual life. ‘God is jealous’: he invites us to focus on him. This is a firm call to centre- and re-centre our life on Him.
For an individual, for a community, and for a culture ‒ it is dangerous to live without a spiritual life. It effects not only the course of how our individual life unfolds. Losing spiritual life, ignoring it, does affect the future of our community. Losing the contact with the Sacred (‘meaning of life’) inflicts upon the community a transgenerational trauma. Losing the joy and guidance of the Holy Spirit ‒ is ignoring the Covenant with God. The repair of this loss is a long, ‘transgenerational’ work.
In view of this loss, and gain, we can really valuate the life giving Face of God which his commandments reveal. Let us read them in love. ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain… Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man servant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor they stranger that is within thy gates… Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Neither shalt thou commit adultery. Neither shalt thou steal. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour. Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or is ass, or any thing is thy neighbour’s.’
The Acts shows, symbolically, a ‘community of spiritual life’. We are united in the Spirit, and our individual lives form a community. ‘And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; so they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.’
As the Community of the Eucharist, we shall be prompted to find those ways in which our environment best can be served. The stake of being spiritually alive is precisely this: through prayer we can grow into a pro-active community. We shall have our vision of what to do… and we shall have the joy of the community as a resource.
The escape of the imprisoned apostles, symbolically, shows the liberation from our age, which spiritual life brings about. Our life in the Holy Spirit makes us free from the harmful constraints of our age. This is what the guards of said: ‘The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.’
Peter’s witness draws a beautiful portrait of Jesus whom we contemplate in the Eucharist. ‘The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, who ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.’
Let us re-read and cherish the words of Acts as the tangible very core of our spiritual life.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..