Alan Barron raises an important point (May AD2000) in cautioning that "we must be careful to avoid the mistakes of the Pharisees". For, while God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, by the time of Jesus these had been blown out to more than 600 rules. Jesus promptly brought them back to two.
Jesus declared, "If you love me keep my commandments" (John 14:14). However, his commandments, in turn, have received comparable treatment by those with notions of what he might have said, or what he could have said, or what he would have said ...
God clearly had a purpose in mind when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments. And Jesus had a clear purpose in mind with his Incarnation. In like manner, Vatican II was undoubtedly convoked for a purpose. It is to be expected, then, that the Council would also be treated to a multitude of interpretations of what was really meant. This was foreseen.
In his opening address for the Council, Pope John XXIII recalled that in "the daily exercise of our pastoral office, we sometimes have to listen, much to our regret, to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with too much sense of discretion or measure ... We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom ... In the present order of things, Divine Providence is leading us to a new order of human relations which, by men's own efforts and even beyond their very expectations, are directed towards fulfilment of God's superior and inscrutable design" (Abbott, p. 712).
Clearly, Pope John encouraged us to share his trusting and generous openness to this "superior and inscrutable design".
JOHN H. COONEY