The Gospel According to Matthew 5:17-19
Jesus said to his disciples: “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.
Reflection: The Gospel today is only 3 verses long. However, it is a very powerful passage. Jesus begins by telling his disciples that his purpose is not to abolish the law or to criticize what the prophets proclaimed and taught. Jesus’ intent is to fulfill the law. Jesus also emphasizes that keeping the commandments is essential.
However, in the eyes of the Pharisees, Jesus frequently disobeyed Jewish law. They often criticized him for not following the law – at least as they believed it should be obeyed. And they did have grounds for their criticism of Jesus. He did not follow the law as the Pharisees thought it should be followed. The Pharisees lived by the letter of the law.
Jesus lived by a different law: the law of love. Jesus followed most of the Jewish laws and customs. However, when it came to people in need of love and compassion, Jesus lived by the law of God. Yes, all the commandments are important and necessary. For Jesus, the first two commandments are the foundation for the other eight commandments: love of God and love of neighbor. Love should come before all else.
We too, can become legalistic as the Pharisees were. We may observe another person doing something that we may judge as not correct. Yet, who are we to judge? We don’t know why the person is doing what he/she is doing; bottom line, it is not our place to judge them. God is the one who is to judge us. We don’t like or appreciate it when another judges us. Yet at times, we fall into judging, perhaps before we even know it. Today there is too much judgement between our Christian brothers and sisters. Sadly, this has turned so many away from their faith. The grace is: we can pull ourselves back from our judgment — if we desire to. If we practice doing this often enough, we may be able to show those who we differ the love that Jesus is showing all of us daily.
Action of the Day: Today we invite you to be aware of your thoughts and especially your judgments. Pay close attention to your interactions with the people you may not like very much or someone who simply gets on your nerves. Show them God’s love and mercy and be the one who brings them closer to Jesus rather than turning them away from Him.