6TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – A
There is not a country, religion, organization or agencies without laws. Law does not only give order to keep the stability of the institution but also the right direction in bringing that institution to its vision.
In the beginning of Judaism, the Jews received the laws from God through the hands of the prophets. The core of the Judaic Law called the Torah was laid down throughout the first five books of the Old Testament called The Pentateuch. But the compendium of all these laws is the Ten Commandment which is most sacred not just to the Jews but to Christians as well. Although these laws came from God they were written down and interpreted by men. During the first stage of their development, God made allowances for the rough morality of the Jews hence their unpolished mentality as regards the law. It was like a teething period, a breaking in as the laws were being introduced to them therefore God conceded to some practices such as divorce and many others.
Along the years, the Jews followed the law but only through a legalistic approach. One’s piety was measured according to the fulfillment of the legal prescription of the law. You are okay with God as long as you don’t break the laws.
Jesus in in our gospel this Sunday, announced revolutionary statements which did not just disturb the status quo of Judaism but a new way of looking or interpreting the Mosaic Law: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Before Jesus, no one had ever said such radical proclamation in putting himself above the law. Jesus proclaimed that He was the completion and the perfection of the Mosaic Law.
Maybe some of us will ask the relevance of this gospel who may not even know the details of the Mosaic Law other than the Ten Commandments. As the new People of God, we continue the journey of the Israelites in the context of our being members of the Church. And since the Church follows the laws which had been handed down to us from the Jews to the Apostles, we follow the spirit of the law as we see in the person of Jesus. Christian life is more than just the fulfillment of the prescription of the law but the love of God and justice to others. Our relationship with God is not based in fear but rather in love. Of course we try as much as possible not to offend God in our actions but true piety does not depend only in our avoidance in doing evil. This was the pitfall of the Jews: they followed the law out of fear by avoiding evil. The law is the voice of God who loves us so we follow the law because it is our expression of loving God in return. In loving God we likewise avoid anything that would displease Him but more so in our acts of justice and charity towards others.
If we go to Sunday mass only to fulfill an obligation otherwise we commit a grave sin, we do it only in getting by with the law. We are no different with the Jews who wanted only to follow the law out of fear. We go to Sunday mass because it is an expression of our love for God together with the Christian community through the acts of the liturgy. After encountering God in the liturgy, then we are empowered to do justice to others and “to break bread” with those in need through our acts of charity.
When we are able to do this, following the commandments of God will not be a burden but a happy expression of our love for God.