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March 27, 2019 Featured

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book PNG2112Gospel: Matthew 5:17-19 -
Do not think that I have come to annul the law and the prophets. I have not come to annul them, but to fulfill them. I tell you this: as long as heaven and earth last, not the smallest letter or dot in the law will change, until all is fulfilled. So then, whoever breaks the least important of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be the least in the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys them, and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the kingdom of heaven.

Reflections:
“Do not think that I have come to annul the law and the prophets.”

One can quote scripture to support many positions. In one passage Jesus is attacked for violating the Sabbath or consorting with unclean people or seeming to set his own authority above the Law. And here he is seeming to abhor any violation of even “the least important” of the commandments. He has not come to “annul” the commandments but to “fulfill them.” Not even “the smallest letter or dot in the law will change,” until all is fulfilled.
And yet Jesus constantly seems to set the spirit of the law—exemplified in love of God and love of one’s neighbor— against the letter. Certainly St. Paul and the early church came to believe that faith set one free from any captivity to the law. It is important to note that Jesus speaks of “the law and the prophets.” When the law is interpreted from the perspective of the prophets, it becomes clear that the highest form of righteousness  is  the   practice of mercy, justice, service to the poor and the stranger, a contrite heart, and humility before the Lord. With the law interpreted in this context, it becomes clear what Jesus means when he says, “I have not come to annul them but to fulfill them.”

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