Jesus tells us in this Sunday’s Gospel that He has not come to abolish the law but to “complete” them. The “Law,” in this case (and in most cases in the Bible), refers to the teachings of Moses and the prophets.
Jesus’ teaching does something very important for us and for all those who were “yoked” to the Law in His time: It reveals the deeper meaning and purpose of the Ten Commandments and the moral of the Old Testament. But Jesus’ Gospel, the Gospel of salvation, is also far above the Law. Jesus demands a morality that is far higher than what was lived by the most pious of Jews: The scribes and the Pharisees.
Jesus makes it abundantly clear: It is not enough to observe the law “outwardly.” It is simply insufficient to merely not murder, not commit adultery, not divorce, not lie, etc. Of course, we definitely should not engage in any of these but it just isn’t enough!
The law of the “New Covenant” (Novum Testamentum in Latin - “New Testament.” See Luke 22:20) is a law that God has inscribed and continues to inscribe on our hearts by Grace — by His Holy Spirit (see Jeremiah 31:31-34). The Holy Spirit poured into our hearts is the New Law. Our hearts, in the biblical sense, are the very centre of our person: The centre of our motivations, the place from which overflow our actions and our words (see Matthew 6:21; 15:18-20).
Jesus, in our readings at Mass this Sunday, calls us to train. Not merely to train our bodies, but our hearts — To train our passions and emotions. Jesus also demands of us our hearts’ complete obedience (see Romans 6:17). Jesus calls us to love God with all our hearts, and He also calls us to do His will from our hearts (see Matthew 22:37; Ephesians 6:6).
Although it’s not very obvious sometimes, God never asks more of us than what we are capable of. This is the message of Ecclesiasticus (it might be called “Sirach” in your Bible) in our First Reading. It is left up to us to make the choice: Life or death; the waters of eternal life or the fires of ungodliness and sin.
By His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has shown us very clearly that it is very possible to keep His commandments. In Baptism, Jesus has given us His Holy Spirit that His Law might be “completed” (fulfilled) within us (Romans 8:4).
As St Paul continues to tell us in his epistle to the Corinthians, the wisdom of the Gospel far exceeds the wisdom of this age that is passing away. And, he points out, this was always the plan: “The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began.”
Trust in this wisdom, in Wisdom Himself, and live by His Kingdom Law!
As we will do by praying this Sunday’s Psalm, let us pray that we continue to grow in being better able to live out the Gospel, and to seek our Heavenly Father with our hearts.