Tue 22nd March 2017

3rd Week in Lent
Deut. 4:1,5-9
Ps. 148(147):12-13,15-16,19-20
Mt. 5:17-19    (Ps Wk III)

In today’s gospel, Jesus said that He had not come to abolish the law found in the Old Testament. That law was an expression of God’s will for people, but because it was necessarily put in human words it was an imperfect expression of God’s will. The Spirit behind the law is what counts, and that spirit is found in the love of God and neighbour. Jesus fulfilled the law first by His own supreme example of love. It is His teaching and example that Jesus wants us to follow and not merely the letter of the law.

For instance, no law requires that you be present at Mass on weekdays during Lent. But in the celebration of these Masses you are certainly fulfilling the spirit behind the command that we love God and pray to Him. You won’t find any explicit law which says that if your neighbour down the block has just come home from the hospital you must go and find out what help you can be, but taking the initiative in a case like that is in accord with the spirit of the law.

If a friend of yours has abandoned the Church because of, say, an argument with his pastor there is no precise legislation requiring that you be the one to try to straighten him out. The spirit of the law, however, should motivate you to approach your friend with understanding and affection.

Perhaps, a twist of John F Kennedy’s famous words from the inaugural address fits the idea: ask not what the law demands that you do, but ask what you can do to fulfill the spirit of the law.

Lord, help me to fulfil Your will — the spirit of the law.