Pastors reflection with Fr Carl

The Spirit of God’s Law

Dear Parishioners,
God’s law takes center stage today as we hear ways to understand it more deeply. Ben Sira points out that we all have free will, so we can choose to obey or disobey God’s commands today. St. Paul
speaks of God’s wisdom which informs God’s law. Jesus, the fulfillment of the law, takes four commands from the Torah and broadens each one, teaching that obeying the letter of the law is not enough. May what we hear today inspire us to live according to the Spirit of God’s law.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel this week that he has come not to abolish but to “fulfill” the law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. His Gospel reveals the more profound meaning and purpose of the Ten Commandments and the moral Law of the Old Testament. However, his Gospel also transcends the
law. He demands a morality far greater than that accomplished by the most pious Jews, the scribes, and Pharisees. Outward observance of the law is not enough. Jesus declares that our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees.

It is not enough that we do not commit murder, adultery, divorce, or lie. Before man is life and death; good and evil, whichever he chooses, shall be given him. “If someone has anything against us, we are to choose to take the initiative and go first and be reconciled.” Such a positive attitude toward mercy is “what God has prepared for those who love him.”

“The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant. I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand and led them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant, and I had to pledge myself their master, say the Lord. But I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts: I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The law of the new covenant is a law that God writes on the heart.

The heart is the seat of our motivations, the place from which our words and actions proceed. Where your heart is, there is your treasure. “Things that come out of the mouth come from the heart” (Matthew 15:18–20). Jesus, this week calls us to train our hearts to master our passions and emotions. Furthermore, Jesus demands the full obedience of our hearts: “But thanks be to God that although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted” (Romans 6:17). He calls us to love God with all our hearts and to do his will from the heart. “He said that you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

God never asks more of us than we are capable of. That is the message of this week’s first reading. It is up to us to choose life over death and the waters of eternal life over the fires of ungodliness and sin. Through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has shown us that it is possible to keep his commandments. In baptism, he has given us his Spirit that his law might be fulfilled in us “so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us who live not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans).

As we do in this week’s Psalm, let us pray that we grow in being better able to live his Gospel and to seek the Father with all our hearts. If you trust in God, choosing life, good, and mercy, you too shall live – you shall live the life of the Blessed Trinity. Let us trust in this wisdom and live by his Kingdom of love.
Love and Peace,
Fr. Karl