“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
What is Jesus saying? The greatest are those who practice lives of “don’t do this,” and “don’t do that”? Then why did he constantly challenge the Pharisees who lived that prescripted life of rules, laws, prohibitions, exclusions?
Perhaps an understanding of today’s gospel hinges on the meaning of “the law and the prophets.” Is God’s law only a list of have-nots, will-nots, and shall-nots? Not really. For Jesus later clarified that all the commandments of God can be encapsulated in two rules: love God and love others as you love yourself.
So I ask myself today: when am I fulfilling God’s law? Is it when I follow all the rules, shielded from every temptation, living in a world where “sinners” need not apply? Or is it when I choose the risky business of being present in the world, living the Christ-example with those who are hurting, broken, poor and needy?
—Howard Craig serves as Provincial Assistant for Advancement on behalf of the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Province Jesuits.
If Pope Francis has asked of our priests, “Be shepherds with the smell of sheep,” what are you asking of me?
Please share the Good Word with your friends!