Today's readings give us some unique bookends to consider regarding the spirit of the law and the letter of the law.
In the first reading, from the book of Deuteronomy, we hear Moses speaking to his people.
“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees
which I am teaching you to observe,
that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land
which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
Therefore, I teach you the statutes and decrees
as the LORD, my God, has commanded me,
that you may observe them in the land you are entering to occupy.
Observe them carefully,
And then we read the words of Jesus in the Gospel:
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.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
The law stands - that seems clear, but Jesus looks at how the law is fulfilled in a very different way. It is remarkably easy for most of us to say that Jesus meant one thing or another when we try to live the Gospel.
But is it remarkably easy?
I am always reminded that if the Gospel does not challenge all of us, we are not hearing let alone living the Gospel. That means we don't just get to read, proclaim, put forth the Gospel about the things that we love and believe in.
If it challenges us,perhaps we can consider that an invitation to go more deeply inside of whatever it is and explore what that means. It would seem to me that Jesus is all about the rules and yet not in any way that most of us, whatever our position is, can truly understand.
If we can only use the Gospel to clobber others and prop ourselves up, a position that can be so seductively attractive, they maybe we do not live that Gospel at all.