Sunday, March 18, 2012

Matthew 5 — Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.” We don’t typically speak of “fulfilling” the law, but of “observing” it. If I stop at a red light, as the traffic laws say I must, have I ”fulfilled” that law or merely observed it? If I refrain from texting while driving, have I “fulfilled” that law, or merely observed it? Jesus spoke of fulfilling the law, not observing it, and noted that He would be the fulfillment of the law. A Law School professor of mine taught that the best way to interpret a law was to seek the fundamental value behind it, and having articulated that value, use it as a lens through which the law should be applied. In this sense, Jesus provided a fulfillment of the law of Moses, for repeatedly He urged His listeners to go beyond the letter of the law to recognize the values represented in each law. He invited us to see beyond the letter of the law to recognize the God whose justice provides the context of all laws. Jesus embodies the very values which undergird the Mosaic law and covenant, and in this sense He “fulfills” the law. Observing a law is obedience; fulfilling the law is commitment! Lord, help me to move beyond mere obedience to Your promptings in my life, to be fully committed and fully surrendered to Your loving and holy will.
Msgr. William J. King

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