Good morning, happy Wednesday, and many blessings.
In today’s Gospel, Matthew 5:17-19, Jesus seems very supportive of the Jewish law, but the early Christians, like St. Paul, felt free to break away from many Jewish teachings. What is God saying to me here? Jesus was very conscious of the spiritual harm we can do to other people, especially young people, by bad example or ill-advised advice. Do I think before I speak on spiritual matters?
The scripture scholars have difficulty reconciling Jesus' words here with his freedom of spirit in many matters concerning the Sabbath. Jesus did not reject the Old Testament of the Jews, but brought it back to its basics: love God and love your neighbour; and he stresses here as elsewhere, that our life should be of one piece, so that people should be able to read our principles from our behavior – that is more important than being able to instruct people in the law of God. It is harder to live one sermon than to preach a dozen.
The fulfilment of the old religion would be a person, Jesus Christ. The law is good only because it leads to Christ. All of religion is good only insofar as it leads us to God and through Christ. Our prayer in the company of Jesus leads us to God our Father and Mother in the fullest way possible, the way of Jesus.
All the law and all the prophets are summed up in the ‘new commandment’ love God, neighbor, and self. Reflect on the discipline involved in your loving. When I am truly loving I am living according to the ‘commandments. The commandments are there to help us to be loving, respectful, just, merciful, caring for God’s creation. Have I ever put law before love in my attitudes or actions? Talk with Jesus about this
Mysteriously enough, Jesus seemed to break significant rules of the Jewish faith as it was practiced in his time: his disciples gathered food from the fields on the Sabbath; he didn’t observe the rules of purification of cooking and drinking vessels beloved of the Pharisees; he allowed the “unclean” to approach him and was rendered ritually “unclean” by such contact; and he associated with sinners.
“Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcome sinner and eats with them.’” (Luke 15:1-2)
How is Jesus not “abolishing” but “fulfilling” the law in this way? Could it be his profound union with people, his loving engagement with people, especially people in difficulty or people being excluded?
I let God survey my life so that I may see how I have kept the commandments and helped others to do the same. I don’t claim to be great in the kingdom of heaven, but I allow God to tell me who I am.