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Warning and Promise
Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
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, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Opening Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, open my heart that you might write the new law of Christ upon it. Jesus, come and live in my heart always; dwell within me so others may encounter you through me.
- The Warning: This Gospel passage contains a warning and a promise. Breaking the commandments of the law, or worse, teaching others to break the commandments, leads do the warning. Later in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus strongly explained this warning: “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). His message is clear: if you lead children or people who have less knowledge than you to sin, you put a stumbling block in front of them, which is a mortal sin and separates you from God for as long as you remain unrepentant.
- The Promise: The promise is that those who obey and teach the commandments will have a special place in Christ’s Kingdom. One does not necessarily need to be a teacher or catechist to teach others. We can teach others through our good examples. Parents have a special responsibility to teach their children to obey God’s commands. A good prayer to remind us of our commitment to follow God’s commands is the Jewish Shema prayer. The entire Shema is comprised of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41. It begins: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God, is Lord alone. You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. You shall keep these things that I command you today in your heart. Teach them to your children. You shall talk of them when you are sitting in your home, and when you are walking along the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
- Love Is the New Law: Jesus came to fulfill the law, not change it. According to the Catechism, “Jesus acknowledged the Ten Commandments, but he also showed the power of the Spirit at work in their letter” (CCC 2054). Jesus is the living, breathing law of God. God’s divine law was not nullified by Christ’s coming; it was united and perfected in him. He is the new law, which we fulfill through love: the commandments “are all summed up in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love cannot result in any harm to the neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10). We can ask ourselves if we seek to fulfill God’s law each day by loving him above all things and loving my neighbors as ourselves.
Conversing with Christ: My Jesus, I glorify you and praise you, the new law of God. I am sorry for the times when I have failed to follow your commandments and especially for any times when I have misled others into breaking your commandments. Please forgive me for my past sins and lead me rightly so that I obey and teach your commandments always.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will do my duty to the best of my ability as an expression of my love for you and love for others.
For Further Reflection: To consider the beatitudes as the new interior law, read this article, The Beatitudes: A Concise Summary, from the Catholic Education Resource Center.
Carey Boyzuck is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.