Wednesday of the Third Week in Lent
(Deuteronomy 4: 1.5-9; Matthew 5:17-19)
The elderly Jewish couple expressed dismay over the number of younger Jews who no longer practice their faith. They themselves believed in the prophet Isaiah’s vision of the Jews being “light to the world” by living impeccable lives and pursuing justice. They were expressing a hope similar to that which Jesus articulates for his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount.
The gospel today goes right to the heart of that sermon. Jesus has presented his vision of true happiness in the beatitudes and has pointed to his disciples as incorporating two universal human needs– light to find richness in life and salt to experience its goodness. Now he states his intention before outlining his program. He has come to do no less than fulfill the Word of God. The Ten Commandments stand unimpeachable, but he will provide the grace to live them perfectly so that their adherents may enjoy the eternal life of God’s daughters and sons.
We sometimes talk of a New Law as if the Old Law were cancelled, but this is not Jesus’ intention. The New Law, most accurately expressed, is not a substitute for the old but the grace of the Holy Spirit working within us to put it into practice. The New Law in sum enables us to love one another as God loves us.