FRIENDS and SERVANTS of the WORD
Third Wednesday of Lent, March 7, 2018
WORD of the DAY
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. (Matthew 5: 17-18)
How shall I live this Word?
Jesus clarifies with His statement in today’s Gospel His position before the Law of Moses and the spiritual message of the prophets of the Old Testament. Especially since the Church at the time of Matthew the debate was still alive between two opposing tendencies: about the relationship of Jesus with the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Some proclaimed that He had come as a liberator to abolish and annul the Law of Moses; and others, on the contrary, who maintained that His task was only that of subscribing to the smallest details, all that was written there.
Against “libertarian” Christians (let’s call them that), Jesus says He did not come to abolish the Law of God written in the OT books. At the same time, however, He proclaims that He did not merely confirm what was said before. Instead He came to bring the definitive revelation of the Will of God. The ancient Law thus found in His word and in the witness of His life was the full accomplishment that it lacked. So, on the one hand, there is no break with the past; but on the other hand, this does not mean that continuity is reduced to mere repetition or simple confirmation of it. Now there is an interpretative novelty that is Jesus’ own and exclusively His.
Therefore, we must also recognize an overcoming of the past, even if in view of a final fullness in the future. Jesus therefore assumes the past, but in a process of fulfillment, leaving behind the imperfect aspects and reinterpreting everything in the light of His new commandment: Love. Freedom is not reached by leaving the Law but going deeper into it. The text of the great Augustine, reported below, is a splendid commentary on what we are saying.
The voice of St. Augustine
Once and for all, therefore, a short precept is imposed on you: love and do what you want; if you keep silent, keep silent for love; if you speak, speak for love; if you correct, correct for love; if you forgive, forgive for love. May the root of love be in you, since from this root only good can come.
Institute of Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Via dell’Ateneo Salesiano 81, 00139 Rome, Italy
Comment by Fr. Ferdinando Bergamelli, SDB