In today’s first reading there is an interesting phrase. There is a reference to the “entire law”. Interesting because it got me thinking of how we perceive the law. Any law; let’s take traffic laws for example; when the sign says “Speed limit 55” we perceive that to be any speed between 56 and 64 miles per hour.
Lord help anyone that is anywhere near you that is driving 55 or less. And there appears to be some unspoken perception that as long as we are not traveling faster than 9 mile an hour over the posted limit we will not be pulled over.
There are other examples, driving through town at 2:30 in the morning. Traffic signs and signals seem to only be “recommendations” at that time of the morning. Assuming that there are no police around and you are not being watched.
In these examples the interpretation of the “entire law” really means the “implied” law. Not so much laws as guidelines. By that we mean the way that it applies to us so as to inconvenience us as little as possible.
In today’s reading there appears to be another meaning. When we consider the Jewish Law, the 10 commandments for example, it is the “letter of the law” that we are to take into consideration. When the commandment says, “thou shall not kill”, for example, we look at the previous few days, see that everyone that we came in contact is still alive and kicking and check that off the list as “no one dead” check.
It would seem as though here we consider the “entire law” to mean the “just the stated law” so as to inconvenience us as little as possible.
But what about the law of the New Testament? The law that Jesus said that he came to bring.
John 13:34 – 36 “I give you a new law. That law is, “Love each other”. As I have loved you, so you also love each other.”
Well, that’s not fair, He changed the rules. Just after we were doing so well with the old rules, He adds this “loved one another” one.
So now when we look at whether we have killed anyone lately we also have to look to see if we have loved one another as He has loved us? What does that even mean?
He died on the cross for us. He was beaten, tortured and humiliated for us. He was abandoned by many of His friends and those that said that they loved Him. Does that mean that we have to love one another that much?
Paul answers that question. He says, “Once again I declare to every man … that he is bound to observe the entire law. You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For in Christ Jesus, [nothing] counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
“Only faith working through love”. That means that when we look at that “shall not kill” law we have to consider “shall not fail to love” law. What if the “entire law” includes “killing” someone’s spirit, or joy, or happiness.
And, what about James 2:15 -16 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If ones of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that?” So now we have to provide for their physical needs as well?
In the gospel reading Jesus chastises the Pharisees for “observing the prescribed washing”. “The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools!” Yes, we have to provide for their physical needs as well.
The gospel verse sums this up perfectly, “The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”
That is the measurement that we should be using as the metric for the “entire Law”, the reflections and thoughts of the heart, because [nothing] counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
LK 11:37 – 41
After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
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