Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent
(Deuteronomy 4:1.5-9; Matthew 5:17-19)
The Scripture readings may remind us of the story of the wise man and the robber. Once a wise man was traveling through a forest when he was stopped by a robber demanding the most valuable thing the wise man was carrying. Without hesitating a second, the wise man opened his bag and pulled out a diamond as big as a grapefruit. The robber took the diamond and went his way. Later that same day, the robber returned. He said that the wise man must have in his possession something more valuable than the big diamond. Otherwise he could not have possibly given the diamond away so easily. That something was what the highwayman now wanted from the wise man.
Of course, the wise man had wisdom to know that the most important things in life are not riches. They are spiritual realities like faith in God, a good character, and the moral virtues. In today’s first reading Moses reminds the Israelites how valuable is the Law that God has given them. He tells them that if they keep the Law, other nations will come to admire them. In the gospel Jesus states that he has come not to take away Moses’ Law but to fulfill it. He will perfect the law by emphasizing the need to love one’s neighbor from the heart. Personal righteousness is always more than providing resources to the needy; it is caring for them from the heart. This heart-felt care is like the “something more valuable” that the wise man possessed.
We have to find effective ways of showing our care for the needy. Monthly contributions to organizations that feed the homeless or provide social services for the poor may be the best we can do. But it is better to dedicate some time ourselves to helping others in great need. In this way we will form relationships with the poor so that we can love them from the heart.