A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 5:17-19:
Jesus said to his disciples:
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
18 Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.
19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
Reflection: Love is the law.
It is very clear from the gospel passage above that the Old Testament including the laws of Moses matter to Jesus. Still, many scholars have already debated and some are still debating on the controversy regarding the attitude versus the words of Jesus regarding the law. While it is true that Jesus had several quarrels with the Pharisees and other religious leaders regarding the observance of the laws of Moses, He makes it clear that He is not abolishing the law but fulfilling it and He is exhorting us to follow even the smallest part of the law.
Let us remember that scholars point out that Matthew’s audience was comprised mostly of Jews and He needed to tailor His message to them. It is therefore important to understand the passage in relation to other verses in the New Testament. Reading from Romans 7:1-6, Saint Paul tells us that we, the followers of Jesus, have died with Him and therefore dead to the law. In Hebrew 10: 16, the author mentions a new covenant where the laws are put in our hearts and written on our minds.
With Jesus as the fulfillment of the law, our focus now is our relationship with Him. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). With faith, we are saved in Him and through Him. It is this faith that allows us to be aware of and to be obedient to His commands.
We died with Jesus and we are made new so we have a new relationship with God based on love which is the summary of the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:40, Romans 13:8-10). In love, relationship matters more than rules. In love, everything is transformed including the law and the traditions. As Jesus has said, love is the greatest commandment.