The representative worshipper that we’ve seen in Micah 6, the person I wrote about yesterday, is actually trying to buy God off, even as cheaply as possible. What an effrontery to such a mighty and gracious God. We see this when we come to Micah 6:8:
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Up to now Micah has accused Israel’s leaders but now he accuses the people themselves. “He has told you.” Micah reports the stipulations in order to reopen the door of hope, to bring them back. There are three central elements to his appeal.
The prophets had referred to the covenant’s stipulations/requirements with a shorthand word that is the word “good.” Then these three central elements explain the core of what good means. The God of the covenant is a faithful God of love. Before such love Israel is not free to grab what she can out of life and then be indifferent to others.
- “Justice” refers here to delivering the weak and wronged by punishing the oppressor. Israel’s leaders had done the exact opposite; cf. 2:1-2; 3:1-3, 5-7, 9-11.
- “Kindness” (love) refers to showing mercy – anyone in a weak position should be delivered, not reluctantly, but out of a spirit of generosity and grace. Acts of justice should be motivated by the guarantee of solidarity and the durability of the righteous covenant.
- “Walk humbly” refers to walking circumspectly. This is clearly a command toward God. This is not self-effacement but a bringing of one’s life into conformity with God’s will.
The prophet does not reject ritual at all but rather asserts that the moral law takes precedence over the ceremonial. If God’s acts of love in the founding and calling of Israel merit loving surrender, then how much more does his love displayed in Jesus Christ? Christians are in great danger of substituting monetary gifts and dead moralism for the radical and continuing repentance of Christ’s commands.
What Has This Word to Do with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity?
Mary Lin Hudson has noted: “The task of walking together in humility has proven to be a difficult exercise . . . our separate visions, no matter how noble, prevent us from perceiving the complete nature of God in all of God’s full expressions” (Ecumenical Trends, January 2013, 9).
God wants to renew his covenant relationship with us. Are we willing and ready to renew our baptismal views, our promises to God that will lead us to follow him?
I believe what we need is to be renewed by the good news itself, a renewal seen from the perspective of the unity that Jesus asked the Father to give to us in John 17:21.
We need a renewal of true spirituality, the spirituality that is linked with one another, a spirituality that deepens our faith and trust so that we can love with the love of the triune God. Why? Because, “God is love” (1 John 4:8–16).
The late Chiara Lubich, the Italian founder of the Focolare Movement, referred to the birth of the this movement in the city of Trent during World War II, as she referenced the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21, this way: “We were born for that page of the Gospel.” She added, “We found the ideal to live for, God, God-Love.” And, she added, “In attempting to put them (i.e. the Gospels) into practice, we discovered that these words unleashed a light that illuminated God’s design of love for humanity” (Essential Writings, 205).
The Holy Spirit is never pure theory. He is the life of Christ in us as living, loving experience of the power of the God who is love. Only such a deeply spiritual renewal in his love will allow us to celebrate our unity and then experience it in all our relationships, first among our Christian brothers and sisters, then among all people, of whatever faith or of no faith.
May we learn, during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, to “walk humbly” in God’s love, moving forward and never being satisfied with a theory about love and the Holy Spirit but only with the life of the divine working in us as the hope of eternal glory. Let us pray for this gift!