Thursday 23 March 2017

The fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets

The texts of today's readings are difficult (Deut 4,1.5-9; Mt 5,17-19). But let us concentrate on the opening words of the Gospel: "I have come not to abolish but to fulfill the Law and the Prophets."

Jesus has not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets. The Law and the Prophets is a way, for the Jews, to speak of almost the whole of their Holy Scriptures. Another way of talking about these is "Moses and Elijah." So when Moses and Elijah appear at the side of Jesus during the transfiguration, it is the Law and the Prophets bearing witness to Jesus. And the beautiful thing is that, in the gospel of Luke, we are told that Moses and Elijah appear glorified alongside Jesus glorified. The Law and the Prophets light up in the presence of Jesus, and Jesus lights up in their presence. The Old Testament lit up by the New, and the New lights up in the presence of the Old. There is no choice: the Old Testament is part of the Body of Jesus, part of the mystery of his incarnation. We cannot neglect the Old if we truly want to enter into the mystery of the New.

The second point is that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets. He is not one more Law among other Laws. He is not one more prophet among other prophets. He is the One who is to come, the One thing necessary.

Let us remember Mary of Bethany, who breaks the vase of pure nard to anoint the head of Jesus – and the way Jesus defends her in the face of criticism ("This could have been sold and the money given to the poor"). Let us remember Mary again, who chooses to waste time at the feet of Jesus, earning a reproach from her sister - and there also Jesus defends her. It is not enough to talk about and work for the poor. It is not enough to do a thousand things - because work can begin from me, from us. But mission begins from Him. We are Called and Sent - by Him. There is a personal element here that cannot be bypassed. There is a relationship of love with the Lord who has loved us first, and called, and sent. We are people who are in love, a love that relativizes everything and that transforms everything. It is worth reading the Song of Songs, as we were invited to do during the Year of Consecrated Life, in order to understand the relationship to which we are called. It is important to clarify this central relationship without which our religious life makes no sense. it is worth asking ourselves about the meaning of our consecrated life.

"Ask insistently for intimate knowledge of the Lord, that we might love him more dearly and follow him more nearly." (Ignatius of Loyola)

(See F. Rossi de Gasperis, Sentieri di vita 3,47-50 for the basic inspiration) 

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