Law of Love

02.16-01How do you see laws? Do you see them as restrictions? Or guide for a better life with God, with yourself and with others? In the seminary, we have our own set of rules to follow like attendance in the community prayers, a certain grade to meet for the academic requirements, prioritizing community activities before personal chores, etc. For some, they see seminary rules as repressing because they say the rules limit a person’s freedom to reach his full capacity. But for others (I myself included), they see
these rules as necessary to become better ministers in the future. Rules are not given to suppress me or the brothers here in the seminary, but rather they serve as helpful tools to free us from what is not necessary. Following seminary rules, for me, is somewhat liberating because I have never felt bounded by the law because of fear, but because of my love to the provider and guide of all life’s lessons, no other than God.
In our Gospel for today, Jesus cleared himself, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” God is inviting us to see the laws given to Moses in a different light, seeing them not only in its literal sense, but to see them with eyes of faith. We are called not only to make holy the days of Sabbath, but to lighten ourselves from the worries of having enemies. To forgive those who have wronged us, and to ask for forgiveness to those who we have offended us. We are called not to commit adultery in its literal sense, but to stop looking or thinking ill or malicious of others. If we look closely, the laws of Moses can be made into one common law. And
that is the law to love. The laws given to Moses are designed for us to learn how to love. And according to Jesus, the law can be summarized into two laws, that is, to love God above all things, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Jesus in our Gospel is challenging us to go beyond the law and to infuse every law with love. To see each law not as something we just have to comply with, but as a way of life. Rules and laws are not imposed by God for us to us to fear Him, but to learn to hold on to Him so that we may be guided to where He wants us to be.

By Sem. Philip Volante

THE GOSPEL TODAY

MT 5:17-37

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 but to fulfill.
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.
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.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife –  unless the marriage is unlawful –
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”

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