Homilette for Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday of the Third Week in Lent

(Deuteronomy 4:1.5-9; Matthew 5:17-19)

When was the last time you ate a ham sandwich or had to work on Saturday? Did you feel guilty for doing it? Of course, you were breaking a tenet of the Mosaic Law which, in today’s gospel, Jesus seems to say is still in effect. Should we start revising our menus and changing our work week?

Of course, that is not necessary. But we must reflect on what Jesus means when he tells us, “...until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter, not the smallest part of a letter of the law will pass away, until all things have taken place.” Perhaps he is using exaggerated language that he does not mean literally as when he says, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out”? Or perhaps he intends these words only for the Twelve, all Jews, who were quite used to keeping the Law?

There is a much more probable explanation why the Church does not keep the full Mosaic Law. As Jesus predicts, “...heaven and earth (have) pass(ed) away” with his death and resurrection. All things have now been made new. We have been given the Holy Spirit to live a new righteousness that surpasses that of those struggling under the law. Do we radiate the Holy Spirit living within us? We do when we act not just in conformity with a law, i.e., not just out of fear of being punished, but out of love for God who has made us and provides for us daily.