Tuesday, June 7, 2016

FULFILLING THE LAW AND PROPHETS


Homily for June 8th, 2016: Matthew 5:17-19.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets,” Jesus says. “I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” We sometimes hear that the Old Testament presents a God of law, the New Testament a God of love. That’s not true! While law is indeed central in the Old Testament, it presents God=s law as an expression of his love B a gift granted to his chosen people, and not to others. We read in Deuteronomy, for instance, about God telling his people to be careful to observe his commandments, “for thus you will give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’ … Or what great nation has statues and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am settling before you this day.” (Deut. 4:6-8)

While the New Testament does emphasize God=s love, almost the whole of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, from which the gospel readings this week and next are taken, consists of examples and stories of how God’s law is lived out in daily life. And at the Last Supper he gives his apostles Aa new commandment: Love one another@ (John 13:34). Both parts of the Bible proclaim the same God. If God=s self-disclosure is fuller in the New Testament, this is because in it God comes to us in person, through his Son. As we read in the opening verse of the letter to the Hebrews: AIn times past, God spoke in fragmentary and varied ways to our fathers through the prophets; in this, the final age, he has spoken to us through his Son ...@

Human laws command us to respect the rights of others. But I can respect your rights without having any human contact with you. Hence the enormous amount of loneliness in our society. Mother Teresa called loneliness Athe worst disease of modern times.@  There is only one cure for loneliness: love. We come here to receive love: a free gift, not a reward for services rendered. The One who gives us this gift does so under one strict condition: that we here receive, we generously share with others.