– Tuesday 21st Week in Ordinary Time –
“For you tithe mint, dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith…..You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!.” [Matthew 23:23-24]
Jesus is unrelenting in his stinging criticism of the Scribes and Pharisees in their interpretation and application of the Mosaic Law and traditions. Was Jesus denouncing the Law? Certainly not, because he stated clearly, ‘I have come not to abolish (the law or the prophets) but to fulfil’ even to the extent that ‘not one letter, not one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all is accomplished.’ (Mt 5:17-18) Jesus is the embodiment of Law which he brings alive in the Beatitudes, the Law of the Kingdom of God, which is a source of freedom rather than enslavement.
What is our attitude to Law in our own lives? Daily the news reports on breaches of societal laws, whether it be international sovereignty, such as the war in Ukraine, assaults and domestic violence in homes, parental and child abuse or traffic infringements. Many people want the benefit of a well-ordered, peaceful and safe society but don’t want to be constricted on how they are required by civil laws to behave and respect the rights of others.
The Law of Christ calls us to embrace a higher order, where the poor, the bereaved, the meek, those who hunger for justice, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted are welcomed into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus calls us to be a people of tenderness and mercy, where the Law no longer binds us but encourages us to become truly human and loving.
by Mike Humphrys
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